Year of the Ram leads to spending binge among consumers
Xiang Nan, a mother who hails from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, spent the Spring Festival holiday in Beijing, where her family dined at a famous Peking Duck restaurant and visited popular tourist sites and shopping centers.
But unlike many who made their Lunar New Year plans long ahead, her trip was spontaneous.
“I sawpictures of snow in Beijing in the morning and we jumped on the next express train,” said Xiang, 34. “At 8 pm, we were on Wangfujing Street in downtown Beijing eating duck. It was wonderful.”
Xiang was among the many who sought entertainment through consumption. The Spring Festival holiday, which ran from Feb 18 to 24 this year, is traditionally time for the largest family gathering for Chinese people.
Retail and catering sales rose 11 percent from last year to 678 billion yuan ($109.3 billion), according to theMinistry of Commerce. But that was down from the growth rate in 2013, which was 13.3 percent.
Sales of high-end and luxury gifts, including tobacco and liquor, declined amid the government’s anti-corruption campaign. Meanwhile, sales of traditional festival products, clothing, gold and jewelry, as well as digital products, soared.
Leading domestic retailers such as Chongqing Department Store, Better-Life Commercial Chain Share Co Ltd and Renrenle Commerce Group Co Ltd Supermarket reported sales gains of 21 percent, 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
Appliance retailer Suning Commerce Group said that communications product sales were up 29 percent during the festival week.
Spring Festival dinners at restaurants, which used to carry skyhigh prices, were aimed this year at the mass market. But still, Lunar NewYear’s Eve dinner sales totaled 29.45 million yuan, up 12 percent, according to the ministry. Consumers mostly opted for established and traditional brands for their celebrations with family and friends.
Xiang spent 2,600 yuan for her family’s duck banquet in Beijing. where the waiting time was almost two hours. The restaurant manager, surnamed Li, said that during Spring Festival, the shop served at least 500 tables a day.
Growth of the catering sector picked up in 2014 after an adjustment prompted by the austerity drive. Restaurant sales totaled 2.786 trillion yuan in 2014, up 9.7 percent, according to the China Cuisine Association.
Jiang Junxian, head of the CCA, has forecast double-digit growth for the sector this year, with revenue of about 3 trillion yuan.