Chinese consumer spending growth slower than expected
April’s retail sales figures lower than 34.2% year-on-year growth in March
Consumer spending in China grew at slower pace than expected in April, suggesting economic recovery is still not solid.
Retail sales of consumer goods rose 17.7% last month over the previous year, reaching 3.3bn yuan ($512bn, £363bn, €421bn), the National Bureau of Statistics showed.
However, the figure missed expectations of 24.9% growth from analysts polled by Reuters. April’s retail sales figure was also lower than the 34.2% year-on-year growth in March.
Retail growth down
Meanwhile, catering sales, which includes restaurant dining, grew 46.4% year on year in April, down from 91.6% in March.
Online sales of consumer goods rose 23.1% during the first four months of the year compared with 2020, accounting for 22.2% of the total retail sales of consumer goods, but it was still at a slower pace than the 25.8% growth rate in the first three months of the year.
The statistics bureau did not release single-month growth rates.
The urban unemployment rate fell to 5.1% in April, down from 5.3% in March, but the average number of hours worked a week declined to 46.4 hours last month, from 46.9 hours in March.
The unemployment rate for those aged 16 to 24 remained high at 13.6%, the data showed. Unemployment was lower at 4.6% for 25 to 59-year-olds.
The urban unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 5.2%, 0.1 percentage points lower than March.
Recovery still not strong
The bureau said the foundation for the economic recovery was not yet solid, reinforcing comments from the People’s Bank of China last week.
Consumption levels have dragged down China’s overall economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Retail sales contracted last year despite expansion in GDP, with China the only major economy to grow last year.
Other April figures showed steady growth in non-consumer sectors.
Industrial output rose 9.8% in April, 0.6 percentage points faster than in March, while fixed-asset investment for the first four months of the year rose 19.9%.
In April, the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index stood at 51.1%, staying above the threshold for 14 consecutive months.