China’s retail sales up 17.7% in April, indicating economy gaining strength

China’s retail sales of consumer goods, a major indicator of consumption growth, grew 17.7 percent year-on-year in April, as consumption-driven post-pandemic recovery is gaining pace in the world’s second largest economy.

In the month, retail sales of consumer goods reached 3.32 trillion yuan ($515.9 billion), up 0.32 percent month-on-month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday.

In the first four months of 2021, China’s retail sales of consumer goods grew 29.6 percent year-on-year to reach 13.84 trillion yuan. Meanwhile, e-commerce has kept brisk as Chinese consumers are increasingly embracing the new shopping habit, with online sales up 27.6 percent year-on-year in the first four months.

Chinese consumer confidence continues to grow thanks to the government’s effective measures to put the coronavirus outbreak largely under control. And, escalating export growth since the beginning of 2021 has driven up residents’ incomes across the board, Tian Yun, former vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times.

The latest data from the General Administration of Customs showed that the country’s export growth beat market expectations to gain 32.3 percent year-on-year to hit $263.92 billion in April, while imports for the month rose 43.1 percent year-on-year, underscoring China’s continuous robust economic activity.

In addition to consumption growth, China’s industrial output and investment also posted fast recovery in April, reflecting the world’s second-largest economy continues to gain momentum after achieving record-setting 18.3 percent yearly GDP growth in the first quarter.

The country’s industrial output rose at a faster-than-expected rate of 9.8 percent year-on-year in April, while fixed asset investment increased 19.9 percent from a year ago from January to April.

It’s worth noting that new growth momentum of Chinese economy continues to expand, with the industrial added-value and capital investments across a full spectrum of new and high technologies reporting higher growth rates. According to the NBS, the industrial output of the high-tech manufacturing sector rose 12.7 percent year-on-year in April, while the investment in the high-tech sector rose 28.8 percent year-on-year.

While the low base last year helped contribute to the impressive economic indicators, other figures like producer price index (PPI) show that the recovery is broad-based, Tian said, noting those figures are projected to remain at a high level in the second quarter.

The PPI, a measure of factory gate prices, rose at the fastest rate in more than three years in April, to hit 6.8 percent on a yearly basis.

Overall, the economic outlook for the second quarter is positive, with month-on-month growth trend expected to continue, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

He forecast that the country’s GDP growth for the second quarter to reach 6-10 percent year-on-year.

A series of favorable factors will ensure a stable growth of domestic consumption during the remaining months of the year, Fu Linghui, spokesperson of the NBS, said at the press briefing on Monday. He said the contribution of home consumption to GDP growth will continue to increase thanks to improved consumer expectations.

With domestic consumption becoming a major driver of the economic growth, the country has also been introducing a string of measures to revive consumer confidence as part of the government’s broader efforts to shore up growth.

On April 28, the country’s third annual national online shopping festival kicked off, which features a variety of premium products and new business models such social media shopping to meet Chinese consumers’ diversified needs. On May 1, a month-long shopping festival was launched in Shanghai with a series of promotional activities planned across the country to put consumption on the front burner.

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