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China Catering and Retail Shrink for First Time Since 2020

Retail sales contracted 3.5% in March, which points to increasingly flagging consumption weakened by Covid curbs on travel and social-distancing rules


A chef wearing a mask and a face shield cooks in a restaurant
A chef wearing a mask and a face shield as protection against the coronavirus cooks in a hotel restaurant in the 'closed loop' at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, February 1, 2022. Photo: Reuters.

 

China’s accommodation and catering sector contracted in January-March from a year earlier for the first time since 2020, pointing to increasingly flagging consumption weakened by Covid curbs on travel and social-distancing rules.

The sector’s output shrank by an inflation-adjusted 0.3% in January-March to 386.1 billion yuan ($60.6 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement on Tuesday.

Accommodation and catering last contracted in the third quarter of 2020, when output fell 5.1%.

In the first quarter, China’s overall economy grew faster than expected by analysts, but consumption, real estate and exports were hit hard in March, data from the statistics bureau showed on Monday.

In March, retail sales contracted the most on an annual basis since April 2020, down 3.5%.

“The top priority is to implement policies to help assist troubled industries, such as catering and retail,” Meng Wei, spokeswoman at the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Tuesday.

The output of the accommodation and catering sector was the lowest since the second quarter of 2020, according to data from the statistics bureau.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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