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Economy in Brief

Big Gain in Chinese Retail Sales
by Carol Stone August 13, 2004

Retail sales in China strengthened in July, gaining 18.2% over their year-earlier amount. Sales totaled 429 billion yuan or $50.9 billion. It was the strongest performance since before the 1997 Asian currency crisis.

This sales expansion is obviously far outpacing the restrained Chinese population growth, which was just 0.6% in 2003. The sales gains mean that per capita sales are also rising steeply, and must surely be achieving double-digit advances again this year, extending those of the last several years, illustrated in the table below.

Further, as seen in the accompanying graph, these sales are also outstripping rising Chinese retail prices. Beginning last October, deflation of these prices turned to inflation, which has continued to accelerate. But the gain in sales is larger, yielding hefty increases in the volume of sales as well, so Chinese people seem to be enjoying vigorously expanding consumption.

  Jul 2004 Jun 2004 May 2004 2003 2002 2001
Retail Sales (Bil.Yuan) 421 425 417 Monthly Average
389 341 313
Yr/Yr % Change 18.2 13.9 17.8 10.7 12.1 10.0
Population (Millions)       Yearly Total
1292 1285 1276
Retail Sales per Capita -- Yuan       3,612 3,282 2,946
Yr/Yr % Change       10.1 11.4 9.3
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