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China's night economy lights up streets of cities, showing consumption potential

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-07-09 10:05
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GUANGZHOU-Another summer night has fallen, and the hustle and bustle once again animated Hongjie night market in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

He Luo, 35, serves braised goat hooves at the market. Judging from the long queue in front of his food stand, he can see that the business has almost recovered from the short resurgence of COVID-19 a few months ago.

"I sell 200 to 300 goat hooves per night,"He says. "I used to peddle along streets. But now with a fixed stand, my business is flourishing with more guests."

As the COVID-19 epidemic has been mitigated, and thanks to stimulus measures and favorable weather, many cities in China have seen a robust recovery of the nighttime economy.

Flexible policies

Night harbors great consumption potential when people could finally slow down their fast-paced urban life, which plays a positive role in promoting economic recovery, says Ma Lili with the School of Economics and Management at Northwest University.

To grab the opportunities brought by the night economy, the central and local governments have introduced a variety of policies and measures to turbocharge its development, with a view to expanding domestic demand, promoting consumption and increasing employment.

China unveiled guidelines in April on tapping the country's consumption potential and promoting consumption recovery, with detailed measures to tackle short-term bottlenecks and boost longer-term consumption vitality.

The guidelines oblige the night economy with more possibilities for development and upgrading, according to Wan Zhe, a professor at Beijing Normal University. Following closely, many provinces issued their own guidelines with multiple stimulation measures.

Central China's Hunan province, for example, unveiled supportive guidelines for restaurants to set up their outdoor eating areas.

The policy was highly anticipated by many night markets in Changsha, capital of Hunan, in hope of improving their revenues in summer.

Likewise, Xi'an has enacted policies to allow pedestrian streets and commercial complexes to do business outdoor and extend opening hours at night.

Innovative management

To further enhance the vitality and attraction of nighttime consumption, many Chinese cities have striven to combine business with culture, tourism and sports in innovative ways.

In the well-known Chinese gastronomic district of Shunde under Foshan city, South China's Guangdong province, the local government has introduced such new elements as designer toys and fashion bazaars to attract locals and tourists to appreciate both the delicacies and cultures.

A variety of trendy businesses such as light shows, camping festivals, car boot sales, and street band carnivals have injected vitality into the historical blocks and monuments of Xi'an at night.

The illumination project along the Xiangjiang River in Changsha has made the west bank wharf even more popular for consumers to enjoy delicacies in the night breeze while appreciating the magnificent river view.

Efforts have also been made to ensure the safety of citizens at night. Since 2019, Tianxin district in Changsha has established the first night economy service center in the province. The center, with officials from various government departments, runs from 8 pm to 2 am.

Both store owners and consumers can report problems such as complaints and conflicts to the center staff on duty. Those that cannot be dealt with immediately will be handed over to the relevant department the next day.

"The night economy has become an emerging source of vitality for China's economy, an important rallying point for stabilizing employment and a powerful engine for stimulating economic and social development," Ma says.

The prosperity of the night economy shows that China's consumer market has great room for recovery. Its development can bring more opportunities to small and micro businesses and self-employed groups, which is also a very important supplement for employment, Wan adds.

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