Costco’s third mainland China store began trial operations on March 10, 2023 in Shanghai’s Pudong district.
Chinese Intelligence Service | Chinese Intelligence Service | Getty Images
BEIJING – China on Wednesday reported retail sales for the first two months of the year that only met expectations, while property investment fell further.
Industrial production rose 2.4% in the January-February period, less than the 2.6% expected in a Reuters poll.
Retail sales rose 3.5%, in line with expectations. Most categories within retail sales were up, but major auto and home appliance items were down. Online retail sales of physical goods increased by 5.3% in the first two months of the year compared to the previous year.
Fixed asset investment rose 5.5%, beating expectations for a 4.4% rise.
Within this category, however, real estate investment fell by 5.7% year-on-year in January and February. This follows a 10% decline in property investment for the whole of last year. Investments in infrastructure and production grew more slowly in the first two months of the year than in 2022.
Urban unemployment rose to 5.6% in February, up 0.1 percentage point from January, the statistics office said. The unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 24 remained persistently high at 18.1%, the data showed.
“The external environment is even more complex, inadequate demand remains prominent and the foundations of economic recovery are not yet solid,” China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a report.
The published figures combine data for January and February – as is customary with the Chinese Bureau of Statistics – to avoid bias from the Lunar New Year. The holiday, which is the biggest of the year in China, means a travel time of more than a month and can fall in any month depending on the year.
The figures mark the first full months since China ended strict Covid controls in early December.
Preliminary data and anecdotes suggest tourism and restaurant dining have picked up, but consumer spending remains tepid overall. Meanwhile, business surveys point to a an increase in manufacturing activity.
Chinese authorities this month announced a growth target of around 5%, which warned new Premier Li Qiang it would not be easy for the country achieve.
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