Supplies to be ‘abundant’ for festival shopping, official says
China has the confidence to guarantee an abundant market supply during the traditional Spring Festival when celebrations usually boost purchases, a senior commerce official said on Thursday.
“This year, businesses and companies increased their inventories by 30 percent from their daily figures to meet the shopping boom during the festival. The inventory of large wholesale businesses can ensure sales of seven to 15 days. On the whole, the market supply can be guaranteed during the approaching festival,” Vice-Commerce Minister Fang Aiqing told reporters in Beijing.
The Spring Festival falls on Jan 31 this year.
Fang added that the price of agricultural products edged up 1.8 percent from Jan 13 to 19 compared with the same period in early December last year because of favorable weather.
“Sales during the festival holiday are expected to remain robust this year. Cultural and recreational activities, such as spending on tourism and movies, will significantly increase. Spending on mediumand low-end consumer goods, including automobiles and liquor, will maintain robust growth amid frugal dining promotions. Online shopping will continue to be a highlight,” Fang said.
Online shopping has experienced rapid growth in recent years and reached 1.85 trillion yuan ($305.7 billion) in 2013, up more than 40 percent year-on-year, according to Fang, who noted that the ratio of business-to-consumer online transactions significantly increased recently.
“Online shopping is a revolution that not only expands the size of business but also revitalizes the supply chains. In the next step, information use, especially online shopping, will remain a new hot development. In particular, cross-border e-commerce will advance reform of logistics systems and the building of a new legal environment and policies,” Fang said.
Meanwhile, Fang warned about the potential risks to the market supply during the festival.
Unexpected bad weather conditions will challenge the transportation of agricultural products. Labor shortages will affect the business operations of housekeeping and logistics. Poor business environments in some regions or industries are likely to lead to disputes regarding purchases.
In 2013, China’s retail sales rose 13.1 percent year-on-year to 23.4 trillion yuan, with purchases contributing 50 percent to the 7.7 percent growth in gross domestic product last year, according to the ministry.
Fang added that retail sales are likely to increase about 13 percent this year and pressure will remain in place because of easing household incomes and the high prices of goods.