China is showing steady improvement in domestic consumption, as global and domestic companies set their sights and hopes on the world’s most populous market. But bolstering the power of its consumers to full potential poses a long-term challenge for China and requires a structural rebalancing of economic growth.
China’s retail sales continue to grow robustly, in line with market expectations and the year’s first-quarter pace. Retail sales for April climbed 14.8% from the same time last year, to 934.3 billion yuan ($137.0 billion), according to the National Statistics Bureau on Wednesday. That compared with the market forecast of a 14.4% rise and March’s gain of 14.7%. Beijing has unleashed numerous subsidies and other incentives to get consumers shopping more and saving less. In adjusted terms, China posted 17.0% real retail sales growth, compared with 16.4% in March, according to some analysts’ calculations.
Top retail buys were food, clothing, cars and house décor. Food prices have dropped considerably on depressed commodity costs, and housing sales have picked up amid tax breaks and looser lending.