Electronics stores, coffee chains and even local authorities in China are slashing prices and handing out millions of dollars worth of discount coupons to kick-start an economy battered by gradually easing, virus-fighting restrictions on movement.
Gome Retail Holdings Ltd (國美零售) and Suning.com Co Ltd (蘇寧易購) plan to hand out more than 620 million yuan (US$88 million) worth of vouchers, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s (阿里巴巴) Alipay (支付寶) is giving away 10 million discount tokens for 10,000 retailers on its app.
JD.com Inc (京東) said that from today, it would give out 1.5 billion yuan worth of coupons for branded goods in categories including electronics.
Even the railway authority was from yesterday to cut ticket prices by as much as 45 percent, while local governments, such as those of Hebei, Zhejiang and Guangxi provinces, are giving out vouchers for tourist attractions, movie theaters and shops.
“We’ve launched some discounted set offers to consumers in recent days, hoping to help consumers getting back to their normal life,” a Pacific Coffee Co (太平洋咖啡) chain spokeswoman said, referring to a coffee-and-bun deal priced as low as 20 yuan.
The promotions reflect concern that the outbreak has depressed consumer appetite and could have a lingering effect, even as the number of new locally transmitted cases has dropped.
About 500 movie theaters reopened over the weekend after being shut for almost two months, but took in just 30,000 yuan on Saturday, local media have reported.
Retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy shrank by one-fifth in January and last month from the same period a year earlier, government data showed, during which China began taking dramatic measures to curb the spread of the virus, shutting transport links and asking millions of people to stay home.
The government has loosened restrictions in the past few weeks, which is encouraging consumers to venture back into malls and restaurants, albeit amid concerns over job security and potential wage cuts brought about by a struggling economy.
“Trade, tourism catering and other services not only help to prop up an economy’s growth, but also embody a city’s vitality,” financial magazine Yicai quoted Nanjing Chinese Communist Party Secretary Zhang Jinghua (張敬華) as saying early this month, days before the city announced that it would give away 318 million yuan worth of shopping coupons in a lottery-style scheme.
He stressed the need to grasp the balance between epidemic prevention and rehabilitation, and to create a safe and secure consumer environment.
The city later said it believed its move boosted consumption by nearly 10 million yuan in five days.
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