China's retail sales increased by 18.7 percent in May over the same period last year, and totaled 1,245.5 billion yuan ($182 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced today.
The growth rate was 3.5 percentage points higher than the same period last year and 0.2 percentage points higher than April's, said NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun.
Urban consumption hit 1.08 trillion yuan in May, up 19.1 percent year-on-year, while rural residents spent 163.7 billion yuan, up 15.8 percent.
In the first five months, total retail sales climbed 18.2 percent to 6.03 trillion yuan. The growth rate was 3.2 percentage points higher than the same period last year.
The government rolled out a series of incentives to bolster consumption to counter the fallout from the global economic downturn, including subsidies for home appliances in rural areas and tax breaks for auto purchases, in early 2009, among others.
China's auto sales in May rose 28.35 percent from a year earlier to 1.44 million units, bringing combined sales in the first five months to 7.6 million units, up 53.25 percent from a year earlier.
Monthly sales of home appliances in China's countryside surged 220 percent year on year in May to 12.6 billion yuan. The figure for January-May period was 54.35 billion yuan, up 400 percent from year-on-year.