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

China’s retail sales continued a general recovery in October, official data showed Monday, on the back of a national holiday and policies aimed at boosting spending.

Although China has largely brought the coronavirus under control, spending has been slower to recover as the world still grapples with the impact of the pandemic.

Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Monday that retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy had risen 4.3% on-year last month.

At a press briefing, spokesman Fu Linghui said the pandemic “has dealt a second blow to countries” including the United States and those in Europe, and that global recovery had “further stalled” as a result. 

“The domestic economy is still in recovery, with multiple challenges to be conquered before a full recovery,” Fu said.

The figure is lower than the 5% growth expected by analysts polled by Bloomberg, but still continued an upward trend as spenders gradually began to open their wallets again, particularly around the October 1 national holiday.

A recent report by financial services firm Nomura predicted that retail growth was likely to continue due to a relaxation of social distancing measures and “moderate policy measures to boost consumption.”

Among these, the firm said, was a “national pro-consumption campaign” in September and October, which may have played a role in boosting retail sales.

Industrial production growth in October remained the same as the month before, but continued to rise more than expected at 6.9%, according to the NBS.

Capital Economics, a consultancy, said last week that economic activity had picked up “on all fronts” in the third quarter, supported by strong foreign and domestic demand.

The urban unemployment rate – a key concern with a large number of graduates entering the market this year after the pandemic hit – also fell to 5.3% in October.