A shopping mall in China before Covid. Consumption has now dropped. Photo: iStock

Despite the economic downturn, Chinese consumption still has potential for growth, said Gao Feng, the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, The Beijing News reported.

In 2018, the total retail sales of social consumer goods reached 38.1 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 9%. The total value has reached a historical high, but the growth rate has since slowed down, showing the first single-digit growth since 2004.

Gao said China’s consumer market has experienced rapid growth for more than 30 years and has entered a new stage of steady expansion with increasing consumer demand and an improving consumption structure.

Gao also pointed out that the 9% growth rate was still exceptional by the standards of the world’s major economies, and it was achieved above the high base of more than 30 trillion yuan. At this rate, the annual increase is 20% higher than that of 10 years ago.

In addition, the retail sales data mainly reflect the consumption of goods. But China’s service consumption has grown rapidly. For example, the growth rate of both domestic tourism revenue and movie box office sales is around 10%. And these are not included in the calculation of retail sales.

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