During the first days of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, the consumer market boomed, despite a fall in luxury gift sales, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Wednesday.
For the first four days of the biggest shopping season and the most important traditional holiday in China, consumer market sales rose steadily. The MOC did not release national figures, but said sales in Beijing and Chengdu rose 9.2 percent and 13 percent year-on-year respectively. During the same period, sales in the provinces of Shaanxi, Anhui and Henan grew by 14.3 percent, 11.2 percent and 10.4 percent.
Online retail, catering, tourism and entertainment also prospered during the holiday, the MOC said in a statement on its website.
However, sales of luxury gifts such as expensive alcoholic beverages and rare seafood, fell sharply. The drop is not surprising, as the central government has been carrying out anti-corruption and austerity measures for more than a year.
In the prosperous city of Fuzhou, for example, a dozen shopping malls saw sales of luxury alcoholic beverages fall by 70 percent in the first four days of the holiday season, compared to the same period last year. Sales of rare seafood were down by 50 percent in some cases, but sales of ordinary goods have generally gone up, the MOC said.
But it looks like some of the missing luxury sales may have found their way abroad. According to the National Travel and Tourism Office, the number of Chinese travelers to the U.S. is projected to increase 24 percent in 2014, and many of those travellers are the rich who will take advantage of the lower luxury product prices outside of China.
A Bain & Company report said that Chinese consumers now make two-thirds of their luxury purchases abroad. Many brand name boutiques employ Chinese-speaking sales associates to cater to this group of shoppers.