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Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 12 News List

April's retail sales rose in Beijing after admission of SARS

BLOOMBERG , BEIJING

Beijing's retail sales surged last month from a year earlier as shoppers shrugged off fears of SARS prior to the city's April 20 admission that it had covered up the true extent of the disease.

Consumers in the Chinese capital bought 14.5 billion yuan (US$1.75 billion) of goods last month, up 15 percent from the year-ago period, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on its Web site.

The city's sales growth was faster than Shanghai's, which has reported seven SARS cases compared with Beijing's 2,265. It also beats the 7.6 percent median gain in nationwide sales forecast for last month in a Bloomberg News survey of eight economists. Beijing has the highest number of reported SARS cases of any city in the world, accounting for about 30 percent of the worldwide total.

Sales at the city's department stores fell 60 percent following the sacking of the city's mayor for his role in covering up SARS cases, according to the official Beijing Daily.

Still, SARS cut Beijing's retail sales by about 10 percent last month, the report said.

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