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POLITICAL ECONOMY
China holiday retail sales jump 15%: government
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 16, 2013


China on Saturday said retail sales jumped nearly 15 percent on-year during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers splurged on jewellery, clothes and food.

Lunar New Year marks the biggest festival of the year in China as hundreds of millions of people journey across the country to celebrate the season with their families and consumer spending typically soars during the period.

China's commerce ministry said sales during the holiday period -- which ran from February 9-15 -- rose 14.7 percent compared with last year to 539 billion yuan ($86.5 billion).

The pace of growth, however, did not match up to last year when sales increased 16.2 percent compared to 2011.

This year's sales of jewellery, food and beverages rose 38.1 percent, 9.8 percent and 11.2 percent respectively, while sales of clothes increased 6.3 percent, the commerce ministry said.

"Across the country, products were abundant, supplies were sufficient and sales lively," the ministry said.

The results come as China's economy has been showing renewed vigour, with GDP growth accelerating in the final three months of last year to 7.9 percent, snapping seven straight quarters of weakening expansion.

In January, China's trade surplus gained 7.7 percent year-on-year to $29.2 billion, according to official data, beating analyst expectations. Inflation in January, meanwhile, slowed to 2.0 percent from 2.5 percent in December.

The world's second-largest economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, expanding 7.8 percent in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.

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