Retail sales keep growing

Retail sales continue to be a pillar of strength for the Guangzhou economy. In the first three quarters, they rose 8.2% to RMB 734.695 billion. This was well above the 7% target set for the year, and 0.6 percentage points higher than the same period last year. After a blip in the early part of the year, it has stabilized at more than 8% for five consecutive months.

This is music to local officials’ ears, of course. Against the backdrop of the difficult external trade environment, local demand has had to fill the gap. This it appears to be doing, as consumers, businesses and government all opened their wallets to spend on consumption, not just investment.

Two key drivers of consumption have been cross-border e-commerce, and the booming “night economy”.

Key nodes on the city’s consumption are Tianhe Road, Beijing Road, and Zhujiang New City. These are where demand has been strongest for sales of gold and silver jewelry, up 36.8% to RMB 6.868 billion, and cosmetics, up 13.3% to RMB 16.689 billion.

Online retail sales also saw strong growth, up 12.9%. Vipshop Digital Technology, Guangzhou Haochao and several other e-commerce companies have reported double-digit growth this year, while in medical products the leaders have been Alibaba Health, Kang Aiduo and others, which have seen more than 70% growth in retail sales.

Tourism has been good, too. In the first three quarters of this year, the city’s accommodation and catering industry generated sales of RMB 112.591 billion, up 9.6%. This is where the “night economy” initiatives pushed by the government helped the most. According to a report from Meituan, “evening consumption” jumped 12.5% in Guangzhou, first among the four first-tier cities, during the recent National Day holidays.

Strongest growth came from cross-border e-commerce, which rose 41.9% in the first three quarters, to RMB 26.04 billion. Bonded logistics, meanwhile, rose 24% to RMB 78.83 billion.

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