Shop and restaurant sales in China during the week-long Lunar New Year festival rose 14.7 percent compared with the holiday period last year to 539 billion yuan (US$86 billion), the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.
Food sales increased 9.8 percent in the Feb. 9 to Friday period from the year-earlier break, jewelry sales surged 38.1 percent and garment sales gained 6.3 percent, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site on Friday.
The Lunar New Year, the biggest buying season of the year, is a period when consumers splurge on everything from beauty products to lavish family dinners.
This year’s growth slowed from the 16.2 percent gain seen last year, and Xinhua news agency said China’s anti-extravagance campaign cut sales at high-end restaurants.
“The slower growth, manifested in the restaurant business, was partly a result of the government crackdown on corruption and the anti-waste campaign,” Shanghai-based Frost & Sullivan analyst Leon Zhao said by telephone yesterday. “We expect overall retail sales and consumption to rise again along with the improving economy in the second and third quarters.”
Steeper discounts, longer promotion periods and Valentine’s Day falling during the festival were expected to help drive purchases, especially of gold and jewelry, Barclays PLC analyst Candy Huang said before the holiday.
An improving economic outlook in the world’s second-largest economy may help boost store receipts. China’s GDP rose 7.9 percent in the final three months of last year from the same period a year earlier, halting a seven-quarter deceleration.
The World Bank forecasts economic growth in the Asian nation will accelerate to 8.4 percent this year, more than four times the pace of the US, and compared with a 0.1 percent contraction in the eurozone.
Produce and meat prices were “relatively stable” during the holiday, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.
The price of pork gained 0.9 percent during the holiday period from the preceding week, mutton rose 1.9 percent, beef 1.3 percent and the price of a basket of 18 vegetables rose 0.6 percent.