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China retail sales plunge 6 percent in November

Retail sales in China plunged during the month of November, missing industry estimates, as the nation’s zero-Covid policy hindered consumer spending nationwide.

Retail sales fell by 5.9 percent in November from a year ago, worse than expectations for a decline of 3.7 percent, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

The November decline in retail sales brought the year-to-date total down by 0.1 percent from the first 11 months of last year.

 It was the lowest reading since dropping 6.7 percent in May and 11.1 percent in April.

Food and medicine were the only sub-categories that saw sales growth during the month from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Clothing and shoes saw sales plunge by 15.6 percent, while online sales of physical goods rose by just 4 percent year-on-year, plummeting from the prior month.

“The consumption market was under pressure in November due to the impact of Covid and other factors, and the decline in market sales widened,” said NBS statistician Fu Jiaqi.

“However, online consumption grew faster, retail sales of basic living goods increased relatively well, some upgraded consumption was higher than overall, and retail businesses such as supermarkets and convenience shops increased steadily.”

In November, exports fell by a disappointing 8.7 percent from a year ago, while imports dropped by 10.6 percent as domestic demand remained sluggish.

Industrial production rose by 2.2 percent in November from a year earlier.

Chinese authorities recently moved away from the zero-Covid strategy with a host of restrictions eased this month. Beijing has pledged to stabilise economic growth, employment and prices next year, amid its exit from the zero-Covid policy which has slowed China’s economy in 2022.