Businesses boost supplies; discourse shifts to domestic demand expansion
China posted a robust growth in consumption during the five-day May Day holiday that ended Wednesday as many businesses across sectors made all-out efforts to tap pent-up demand, which experts said will further consolidate economic recovery and sustain sound development.
Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that consumer spending picked up rapidly during the holiday, especially on eating out, as evidenced by an almost 58 percent year-on-year increase in sales figures of key catering enterprises monitored by the ministry.
Consumer footfalls on national demonstration pedestrian streets surged by some 121 percent year-on-year, boosting business turnover by around 88 percent, the ministry said.
Sales of gold, silver and jewelry rose nearly 23 percent year-on-year; consumer spending on clothing climbed 18-plus percent and cosmetics by 16.5 percent; tobacco and alcohol sales rose by over 15 percent year-on-year; and sales of home appliances expanded by nearly 14 percent, the ministry said.
Reviving and expanding demand is key to a sustained recovery in the economy, according to a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee held on Friday.
The consumption rebound illustrated people's strong willingness to spend during the holiday. The consumer flow in various regions recovered to 2019 levels, with some regions recording figures better than those of the pre-COVID levels, said Liu Tao, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Liu said businesses across the country lost no time in launching a flurry of promotional activities, and relevant government departments fully leveraged the holiday to shape new forms of consumption after China largely brought the pandemic under control. The combined efforts boosted the notable growth of consumer spending.
The consumption spree during the holiday revealed that China boasts huge potential and vitality in domestic demand and that the role of consumption as a major engine of economic growth has been further brought out, which will help cement the current momentum of economic recovery, he said.
On top of the brick-and-mortar consumption boom, consumer spending via various online platforms gained steam as well during the May Day holiday.
According to data from on-demand service platform Meituan, the average daily online spending on consumer services soared 133 percent over the same period in 2019, hitting a record high for the past five years. In particular, food and beverage consumption rose by 92 percent, and ticket bookings for tourist attractions doubled.
Data from online food delivery platform Ele.me also showed that visitors' demand for instant on-demand delivery services skyrocketed during the five-day holiday.
Delivery of maternity and newborn care products, personal care items, daily necessities and other retail merchandise increased by more than two times compared to the same period last year, according to the company.
Going forward, efforts to further expand domestic demand and unlock greater consumption potential should remain high on government work agenda, in a bid to strengthen the intrinsic impetus for the country's pursuit of high-quality development, said Su Jian, director of the National Center for Economic Research at Peking University.
The meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Friday urged efforts to boost household incomes through multiple channels, improve the consumption environment and promote services consumption in such fields as culture and tourism.
Su said a stable recovery and continuous growth in consumption relies much on fuller and better employment as salary raises have a direct bearing on people's spending power. Only by taking concrete steps to help raise people's incomes can the expansion of consumption over the long run be realized.
In addition, businesses should explore every possible means to improve the quality of goods and services and better harness digital technologies to widen consumption channels and bolster consumers' willingness to spend, he said.