New statistics have shown that urban Chinese are spending increasing amounts on services and leisure.
Beijing residents spent one-third of their income on cultural and recreational activities in 2005, up 8 per cent over 2004, according to statistics from the Beijing Municipal Statistics Bureau.
"This year, people are going to spend proportionately more on services," said Shi Kangning, from the China Association of Social Workers.
For example, Beijingers will spend 3 billion yuan (US$370 million) on weddings alone, Shi told China Daily.
According to Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, revenues produced by the city's entertainment sector reached 4.8 billion yuan (US$600 million) in 2005, up 30 per cent from 2004.
Wu Jianying, marketing manager of Alexander Group, a chain fitness group with outlets in Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei, said, "Shanghainese, especially white-collars who earn above average, are pursuing life of better quality."
After a successful trial starting 2002, the group is considering opening a second outlet in the city.
"We have strong belief that Shanghai has huge potential for high quality service consumption," Wu said.
Zhou Juemin, manager of a domestic help company under Shanghai Women's Federation, told China Daily they are offering more "considerate" services to cater to consumers' needs.
"When we offer home relocation, moving the furniture is just part of our job. We also visit the neighbours and send them cakes to help our clients to better adapt to the neighbourhood," she said.
In Guangzhou, a survey conducted by Guangzhou Urban Survey and Research Centre showed the average urban family spent 5,067 yuan (US$634) "buying different kinds of services" last year.
The figure represented at least 10 per cent growth from a year ago. It also accounted for more than 35 per cent of the family's total annual income in 2005, compared with less than 10 per cent in 2000.
(China Daily 06/05/2006 page3)