By Zhu Shenshen | 2013-2-18 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
SHOP and restaurant sales in China during the week-long Spring Festival rose at the slowest pace in four years.
Retail sales at outlets monitored by the Ministry of Commerce increased 14.7 percent in the February 9 to February 15 period from the year-earlier break to 539 billion yuan (US$86 billion), according to last Friday's statement on its website. That was down from a 16.2 percent pace in 2012 and the least since a 13.8 percent gain in 2009, previously released figures show.
An improving economic outlook may help boost store receipts. China's gross domestic product rose 7.9 percent in the final three months of 2012 from the same period a year earlier, halting a seven-quarter deceleration. The World Bank forecasts economic growth will quicken to 8.4 percent this year, more than four times the pace of the United States. The euro area will shrink 0.1 percent, the lender projects.
China's economy is poised to grow "reasonably fast" as incomes rise, Li Daokui, an economist at Tsinghua University and a former adviser to the People's Bank of China, said in an interview with CNN aired yesterday.
Speaking at a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from Group of 20 nations in Moscow, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said China's policies to boost domestic demand and restructure the economy have borne fruit, the Xinhua news agency said in a report on Saturday.
Jewelry sales jumped 38.1 percent over the week-long break compared with a 16.4 percent increase in 2012, according to commerce ministry figures. Food sales rose 9.8 percent, down from a 16.2 percent pace the previous year. The increase in garment sales slowed to 6.3 percent from 18.7 percent, the data showed.
Sales of high end electronics, including Apple Inc's iPad and iPhone, jumped 36 percent in shops monitored by the ministry in the eastern city of Nanjing, according to the statement.
The data are based on sales at "major retail and restaurant outlets" monitored by the ministry, according to the statement.
Over 24b text messages sent over Spring Festival
More than 24 billion text messages were sent to greet family members and friends during the week-long Spring Festival holiday last week, mobile telecommunications firms said yesterday.
In the seven days until last Friday, the end of the holiday this year on China's mainland, China Mobile users sent a total of 24.3 billion text messages, up 2.5 percent year on year, according to the telco, the world's biggest mobile carrier.
Although China Unicom and China Telecom did not provide their figures for text messages sent, they both confirmed they were higher than the level of the previous year.
It is understood that the total text messages sent during this Spring Festival surpassed the 32 billion messages during the same period last year, industry insiders said.
The greeting messages have also become more diversified including text, picture, music and video via various mobile applications on smartphones, like Tencent's Weixin, analysts said.
Over 1.5 billion multimedia messages, comprising photos or voice recordings, were sent from China Mobile's handsets in the holiday week, a rise of 15.5 percent from a year ago.