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

China’s retail sales grew in November, official data showed Tuesday, as consumers continued their return to spending with the country’s Covid-19 outbreak largely brought under control.

Retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy rose 5% on-year last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

The figure was the same as that predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg and up from 4.3% growth last month on the back of a week-long national holiday in October.

NBS spokesman Fu Linghui said at a press briefing that China’s economy was seeing a “steady recovery” from the new coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged in central China late last year.

But he warned that “given the resurgence of the epidemic, the world economic recovery is facing headwinds with increasing instabilities and uncertainties.”

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

Tuesday’s data showed that catering sector revenue growth was down by 0.6% in November, after turning positive for the first time this year a month earlier.

Industrial production growth in November grew slightly to 7%, ticking up from 6.9% last month.

Meanwhile, the urban unemployment rate – a key concern with a large number of graduates entering the market this year after the pandemic hit – fell slightly to 5.2% in November, the fourth straight month.

However, experts have cautioned the figure could be higher due to large numbers of people in China’s informal workforce.