BEIJING — An official survey showed faster sales increases for Chinese retailers last month.
Combined sales of 5,000 retail companies across the country grew 5 percent year-on-year in March, up from 4.2 percent in the first two months and 4.5 percent in the same period a year ago, the Ministry of Commerce said in a report (MOC).
Their sales rose 4.5 percent in the first quarter, also higher than the 4.1-percent a year earlier.
The data suggested the country’s consumer market remained robust as policymakers have been working to push for a consumption-led economy and to reduce reliance on investment and exports.
“The consumer market has steadily picked up its pace,” the MOC said, citing stronger online shopping and more spending in services such as film and tourism.
E-commerce maintained rapid expansion as online platforms tracked by the MOC reported an average 20-percent rise in turnover from January to March. Brick-and-mortar retailers also recovered, with sales of convenience stores and franchise houses up 7.2 percent and 5.9 percent respectively.
Box office sales exceeded 20 billion yuan ($3.17 billion) in the first three months, up nearly 40 percent year on year, partly driven by the weeklong Spring Festival holiday, which saw a record-setting 5.72 billion yuan in tickets.
The upgrading of Chinese consumption has accelerated as new growth points have emerged in services, green products and upmarket spending, the MOC said.
“Consumption is playing a bigger fundamental role in driving economic growth,” said the ministry.
The MOC has predicted 10-percent growth in retail sales of consumer goods for the first quarter.