China's retail sales for the first two months of this year are expected to jump by 9 per cent over figures for the same period last year, the State Economic and Trade Commission said yesterday.
Retail sales are expected to reach 754.3 billion yuan (US$90.9 billion) during the January-February period, a year-on-year increase of 9 per cent.
"The growth rate is 0.5 percentage points higher than the same period last year," the commission said.
The commission noted that a number of factors, including increased spending on transportation and dining over the Chinese Lunar New Year as well as more spending on cars, housing and home appliances, have contributed to the steady growth of the domestic consumer market.
Further, large purchases, such as cars and housing, have been experiencing particularly sharp increases in sales even though the government has yet to implement polices to facilitate the consumption of these items.
Qi Jingmei, a senior economist with the State Information Centre, said China's consumer market would continue to enjoy increasing growth this year.
"Retail sales of consumer goods in China are likely to grow 10.3 per cent to 4.5 trillion yuan (US$544.1 billion) for the whole of 2003," she said.
The driving force behind the projected growth is the upgrade of the consumption structure in consumer markets, she said.
"After about 10 years of development, urban residents have begun to shift their consumption focus from small items worth of about 10,000 yuan (US$1,204) to larger items valued at 100,000 yuan (US$12,048) or more," Qi said.
Large items such as cars and housing have gradually become hotly sought-after items for purchase.
An investigation by Qi's centre found that 80 per cent of residents in Beijing were unsatisfied with their present living conditions, with 48 per cent saying they intended to purchase homes in the coming several years.