CN: Retail Sales

Tue Mar 13 21:00:00 CDT 2018

Consensus Actual Previous Revised
Y/Y % Change 9.8% 9.7% 9.4%
M/M % Change 0.76% 0.7% 0.59%

Chinese retail sales grew 9.7 percent on the year for January and February combined, up from 9.4 percent in December and just below the consensus forecast of 9.8 percent. Separate year-on-year data for January and February are not published because of the impact of differences in the timing of lunar new year holidays. Retail sales rose 0.76 percent on the month in February after an increase of 0.59 percent in January.

The small increase in headline retail sales growth in the first two months of the year relative to December reflects offsetting moves among the major categories of spending. Automobile sales picked up strongly, increasing by 9.7 percent year-to-date after increasing by 2.2 percent on the year in December, while growth in household non-durables also accelerated from 5.4 percent to 10.1 percent, with home appliances and building materials also recording stronger growth.

Sales of communication equipment, however, continued to slow after a spike in late 2017, up 10.7 percent on the year in the first two months of 2018 after increasing by 13.4 percent on the year in December and 33.0 percent in November. Clothing, furniture, and oil and oil products were also among the categories that saw weaker sales growth at the start of the year.

Year-on-year growth in urban retail sales picked up from 9.3 percent in December to 9.6 percent for January and February combined, while rural retail sales growth increased from 10.1 percent to 10.7 percent.

Retail Sales measure goods that are sold to the consumer or end-user, generally in small quantities and in the state in which they were purchased by the retailer. China's retail sales are reported monthly. The critical value is the change from the same month in the previous year.

Retail sales tend to have a muted impact because the Chinese economy is not heavily reliant on consumer spending. However, the government is trying to stimulate consumer spending to give the economy more balance. To this end, the government put into place a basket of stimulus measures, including government subsidies and tax breaks for home appliances and cars, to expand consumption to sustain the economic growth, which was slowed by a slump in exports amid the global economic downturn.