Festival holiday boosts retail sales

Updated: 2012-01-29 00:09


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BEIJING -- China's retail sales for the week-long Spring Festival holiday rose 16.2 percent year-on-year, boosted by a variety of promotional events, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed on Saturday.

Shops and restaurants across the country pocketed 470 billion yuan ($74.4 billion) in sales volume, with that of clothes, jewelry and foods up 18.7 percent, 16.4 percent and 16.2 percent respectively, the MOC said.

The increases came as businesses rushed to take advantage of the nationwide shopping spree during the week-long holiday by launching many promotional events featuring the Dragon Lunar New Year.

The Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on Jan 23 this year, is traditionally a time for family reunions in the nation. Businesses experience a boom during the period as people swarm to shops and restaurants.

Sales of festival-related goods saw double-digit growth in most regions, with the volume rose 15.5 percent in Beijing, 17.9 percent in Jilin, 18.1 percent in Qingdao, and 14.2 percent in Dalian.

Among the purchases, New Year gold bars, gold ingots and other Dragon-themed jewelries were most favored by consumers.

Sales of gold, silver and jewelry rose 57.6 percent during the week-long holiday at Beijing's Caibai store, a most famous gold seller in the city. Other jewelry stores across the country also saw sales surge during the period, according to official data.

Electronics and home appliances were also well-received by consumers. Digital Single Lens Reflex, 3D TVs and the newly released iPhone 4s were among their favorites.

In addition to shopping, many people turned to traditional activities, such as visiting temple fairs.

Beijing's Grand View Garden fair received 100,000 visitors during the holiday while over 1.2 million sightseers went to the Ancient Culture Street in the city of Tianjin.

Restaurants and entertainment facilities were all flooded with people.

The spending spree, a sign of the country's buying potential, comes amid persistently high inflation in the country.

The country's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.4 percent in 2011 from the previous year, well above the government's full-year control target of 4 percent, official data showed.

Though many had complained about inflation chipping away their earnings, their shrinking pockets did not spoil their appetite for shopping, giving hopes that domestic spending might come to help shore up the economy as the magic of export and investment wanes amid the global economic headwinds.