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China's consumer market bounces back from COVID-19 impact during May Day holiday

Updated: May 09,2020 01:42 PM    CGTN/Xinhua

China's consumer market showed signs of accelerated recovery during the five-day May Day holiday that ended on May 5 amid further containment of COVID-19, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on May 8.

The MOC said major retailers have reported increases in daily sales following China's Labor Day holiday.

May 1 to 5 saw a 32-percent growth in revenue over April's Qingming Festival holiday. Business circles nationwide saw an average increase of 68 percent in customer flow.

Durable consumer goods like vehicles and electric appliances were in high demand in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing, as markets saw an uptick in consumer confidence. Grocery prices also fell, with wholesale pork prices dropping by 2.8 percent and 30 types of vegetables cheaper compared to peak prices in February.

Vice-Commerce Minister Wang Bingnan said the service industry, which took a devastating blow during the pandemic, has recovered about 70 percent compared to last year.

Meanwhile, data from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed that tourism alone has recovered to 50 percent of pre-COVID-19 level.

Online sales of physical commodities surged by 36.3 percent year-on-year during the period as the COVID-19 epidemic spurred fast growth of online consumption, according to Wang.

Also increasing were sales of durable consumer goods such as automobiles and home appliances that were restrained in the early stage of the epidemic, Wang said.

During the holiday, major automobile companies in the municipalities of Shanghai and Chongqing and Zhejiang province monitored by the ministry saw their sales expand by 49.6 percent, 28.5 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.

As the country's consumption was hampered by COVID-19, live-stream has become a popular means to promote products, according to Wang.

E-commerce live-streaming sessions doubled during the holiday while the number of goods promoted increased 4.7 times compared with the same period last year.

Generally, the rapid recovery from the COVID-19 impact reveals China's huge market advantages and massive potential for domestic demand, Wang said.

The MOC has launched an online shopping festival not long ago, drawing 115 e-commerce platforms and more than 100,000 quality goods.

During the five-day holiday, sales revenue of the shopping festival made 58 billion yuan ($8.19 billion), data showed.

Meanwhile, 28 provincial-level regions have issued over 19 billion yuan of vouchers since the outbreak to further stimulate spending.

The city of Hangzhou, where e-commerce giant Alibaba is headquartered, released 60 million yuan worth of vouchers during the five-day holiday, which raked in one billion yuan in actual spending.

Other cities like Shanghai have turned to shopping festivals to recreate demand. E-commerce giants and live-streaming platforms collaborated to roll out new forms of real-time, virtual shopping, which couldn't come at a better time for small and micro-sized retailers and service providers.

These measures have raised consumer confidence, improved people's livelihoods and supported virus-hit industries, especially the catering and retail sectors, which depend heavily on customer flow, Wang said.

The central government will continue to work on supportive policies for small and micro-sized restaurants, hotels, and other privately-owned businesses in the service industry, he added.