Consumer spending saw a fast growth during the weeklong Spring Festival holidays, with a rise in both traditional and new forms of consumption, data showed late Saturday, despite a downward pressure on the country's economy.
From February 7, the Spring Festival Eve, to February 13, the sales of the nation's retail and catering companies reached 754 billion yuan ($115.4 billion), an increase of 11.2 percent year-on-year, according to a statement released Saturday by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).
During the holiday, the traditional Spring Festival consumption items including food, tobacco, wine and clothes, as well as some high-end products such as jewelry saw high growth compared to the same period last year, the MOFCOM said.
Experts noted that the consumer spending during the Spring Festival holidays is always seen as an indication of public confidence in the economy.
Consumption plays a vital role in driving the domestic economy, and accounted for about 66 percent of the growth in 2015, said Xu Hongcai, director of the Economic Research Department at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
"The Spring Festival holidays are a good time to tap the consumption potential of Chinese consumers, while the seasonal spending can also boost the economic growth," Xu told the Global Times on Saturday.
Raising the share of consumption is a key part of China's current economic development strategy and economic restructuring, he noted.
The MOFCOM noted that the catering businesses across the country saw a rapid growth during the holidays and the 'Internet Plus' initiative facilitated business development.
For instance, more families in Hangzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province and in Nanchang in East China's Jiangxi Province chose to hire cooks via mobile apps to prepare family reunion dinners at their homes, the MOFCOM said.
Online shopping via mobile phones, which has become a key new trend in holiday consumption, also saw a significant expansion, the Wuhan-based Changjiang Daily reported Friday.
About 70 percent of the online purchases during the Spring Festival holidays were made from mobile terminals, the report said.
Liu Xuezhi, an analyst at Bank of Communications, told the Global Times Saturday that online platforms have become the main shopping channel for domestic consumers and during the Spring Festival holidays this year.
The online retail industry saw a strong demand, thanks to the convenience of shopping via mobile devices, Liu said.
The consumption pattern in the country has been going through a transition, Xu said.
Xu noted that spending on tourism, cultural activities and healthcare has become increasingly popular in recent years, alongside spending on food and drinks.
The number of Chinese outbound tourists during the 2016 Spring Festival holidays was forecast to hit a record high of 6 million, up around 15 percent year-on-year, a January report from ctrip.com showed.
Thailand, Japan and South Korea are the top three travel destinations for Chinese visitors, the report said.
However, there are some concerns that the growth of Chinese visitors to countries like Japan will slow down due to the downward pressure on China's economy and the depreciation of the yuan, according to media reports.
"The growth in outbound tourism in the recent years is linked to the rise in personal income and changes in consumer choices," Liu said.
Although the depreciation of the yuan is likely to reduce the amount of spending by Chinese consumers in overseas markets, the number of outbound travelers as well as the consumption in overseas markets will continue to rise, Liu predicted.
"I would still like to shop in Japan despite the depreciation of yuan because the quality of cosmetics sold in Japan is guaranteed and the price is relatively lower than that in China," Zheng Xian, a 30-year-old college teacher in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday.
Zheng is currently on a six-day trip to Japan.
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