The Conference Board uses cookies to improve our website, enhance your experience, and deliver relevant messages and offers about our products. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this site is provided in our cookie policy. For more information on how The Conference Board collects and uses personal data, please visit our privacy policy. By continuing to use this Site or by clicking "OK", you consent to the use of cookies. 
China Center Chart of the Week: Do weak retail sales over the Chinese New Year holiday signal slowing consumption growth?

This China Center members-only chart assesses the “real” (i.e. inflation adjusted to 2012 price levels) monthly Retail Sales of Consumer Goods statistic over the last 5 years, emphasizing the sales for Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday periods.

Recent press reports lamenting weak CNY sales (anecdotally blamed on current Government austerity measures associated with banqueting and gift giving, etc.), and the negative connotations therein for China’s consumption growth trends, require some scrutiny. The real story is unfortunately quite unclear.

To account for price increases over the last 5 years, and thus produce a “real” estimation, we deflated the reported nominal statistical data by the Retail Price Index (RPI). The analysis shows that year-on-year growth for this year’s CNY holiday was 12 percent – 2 percentage points lower than CNY-week year-on-year growth in 2011 and 2012.

Does this signal that consumption growth is slowing? Download the Chart for a full exploration of this question.

Support Our Work

Support our nonpartisan, nonprofit research and insights which help leaders address societal challenges.