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China: Downward trend in retail sales growth continues in March

April 15, 2015

In March, nominal retail sales grew 10.2% over the same month last year, which was down from the 10.7% increase tallied in the first two months of the year and represented the softest expansion since February 2006. The National Bureau of Statistics releases combined January and February figures to avoid seasonal effects stemming from the Chinese New Year holiday. The reading, which undershot the 10.9% increase that market analysts had expected, reflected mostly a contraction in oil and oil-related products as well as in automobile sales.

Compared to the previous month, retail sales expanded a seasonally-adjusted 0.71% in March (February: +0.97% month-on-month). As a result of the disappointing figures observed at the outset of the year, annual average growth in retail sales fell from February’s 11.8% to 11.6% in March, which represented the lowest reading since June 2004.

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants expect retail sales to increase 12.3% in 2015, which is up 0.1 percentage points from last month’s estimate. In 2016, the panel foresees a slightly higher expansion in retail sales of 12.3%.


Author: Ricard Torné, Lead Economist

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China Retail March 2015

Note: Month-on-month changes of seasonally adjusted nominal retail sales index and year-on-year variation in %. Owing to seasonal factors related to the Lunar New Year, annual figures for January and February are reported together.
Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) and FocusEconomics calculations.


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