China: Retail sales decelerate sharply in January-February
March 13, 2012
In the January-February period, nominal retail sales grew 14.7% over the same period last year, which undershot both the 18.1% expansion recorded in December and market expectations that had retail sales rising 17.3%. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the annual figures of the first two months of the year together in order to smooth the strong seasonality associated with the Chinese New Year holiday. The moderation was broad-based among all main sub-components, with the exception of automobile sales, which recorded gains. Compared to the previous month, retail sales expanded a seasonally adjusted 1.02% in January followed by a 1.56% increase in February (December 2011: 1.45% mom s.a.). Owing to the weaker January-February outturn, the trend continued to slow, with annual average growth in retail sales falling slightly from 17.1% in December to 16.9%. Meanwhile, the consumer confidence index published by the NBS rose from 100.5 points in December to 103.9 points in January. A reading above the 100-threshold means that optimists outnumber pessimists.