BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Greenpost) — The nationwide shopping spree on Wednesday has offered solid proof of the spending power of China’s billion-plus population, exciting the government as it hopes increased consumer spending can give the economy a shot in the arm.
Chinese online retailers logged record sales on this year’s Singles’ Day, the equivalent of the U.S. Cyber Monday, as consumers scrambled for deals during the world’s largest online shopping event.
Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace has reported sales of 91.2 billion yuan (14.3 bln U.S. dollars), a 60-percent rise from last year’s 51.7 bln yuan.
Brick-and-mortar stores also launched promotional events.
The festive atmosphere came despite downbeat sentiment in the broader economy, which expanded 6.9 percent in the third quarter, the lowest reading since the second quarter of 2009.
Compared with investment and exports, consumption has been a less conspicuous growth driver for China in past decades, but it is catching up fast.
In the first half of 2015, it contributed more than 60 percent of economic growth.
China’s retail sales of consumer goods in October 2015 grew 11 percent from October 2014 to 2.83 trillion yuan (445 billion U.S. dollars). This was the highest such year-on-year rise of 2015, while online sales surged by 34.6 percent on the same basis to 2.95 trillion yuan.
Following a meeting on Wednesday, the State Council, China’s cabinet, promised more measures to encourage commerce and consumption.
It pledged to make the market more accessible to private investors and to reduce restrictions on foreign capital. The government will strengthen policing of merchants, improve intellectual property rights protection and crack down on fake goods, the State Council said.
China will also encourage businesses to adopt new technology and materials to improve the quality of their products, according to the statement.
Chen Lifen, a researcher with the Ministry of Commerce, said the policies will encourage market competition, stimulating companies to offer better products and services, which will in turn drive consumption growth.
In addition, the government plans to encourage imports of consumer goods, open more duty-free shops and streamline tax refund policies for foreign tourists.
As China’s middle-class population expands, demands for foreign products have grown substantially.
According to Alibaba, sellers from 232 countries and regions ran promotions during this year’s Singles’ Day. In less than two minutes, cross-border transactions on its platforms exceeded the daily volume on the same day last year.
Although more imports of consumer goods will put pressure on domestic companies, that will also force them to up their game, which is conducive to the country’s economic restructuring, according to Zhang Handong, director of Zhejiang’s research center on international trade. Enditem
Editor Xuefei Chen Axelsson