Retail sales up 15.8% in first two months

Updated: 2011-03-11 10:27
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BEIJING - China's retail sales rose 15.8 percent year-on-year to 2.9018 trillion yuan ($441.67 billion) in the first two months of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Friday.

Despite a spending spree during the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, the growth was 3.3 percentage points lower than December's level.

Urban retail sales of consumer goods topped 2.5173 trillion yuan in the January-February period, up 15.9 percent year-on-year, while retail sales in rural areas rose 15.4 percent to 384.5 billion yuan from a year earlier, according Sheng Laiyun, spokesman with the NBS.

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The January-February consumption figure was "relatively weak," said Li-Gang Liu, Head of Greater China Economics with the ANZ Bank, which is far below market expectations of 19 percent.

The slowdown in consumption growth was in line with a decline in consumers' confidence in recent months, he said in a note to Xinhua.

The Bankcard Consumer Confidence Index (BCCI), compiled by Xinhua News Agency and China UnionPay, a Chinese banking card industry association,  was up 0.51 points to 86.04 points last month from January, but it was still down 0.59 points from the same period last year.

In January, the index dropped 1.28 points from a year ago and 0.39 points from  the December level.