China: Retail sales growth slows to five-year low
March 13, 2014
In the January-February period, nominal retail sales grew 11.8% over the same period last year, which was below the 13.6% increase tallied in December. The National Bureau of Statistics releases combined January and February figures in an attempt to avoid seasonal effects stemming from the Chinese New Year holidays. The print undershot the 13.5% increase market analysts had expected and represented the slowest growth rate since February 2009. The slowdown mainly reflects a deceleration in sales of clothes and textiles, household appliances, and oil and oil-related products. Compared to the previous month, retail sales expanded a seasonally-adjusted 0.71% in February (January: +0.78% month-on-month). As a result of the sharp deceleration observed at the outset of the year, the trend deteriorated, with annual average growth in retail sales inching down from 13.1% in December to 13.0% in the January-February period. The government set retail sales a growth target of 14.5% for this year. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants expect retail sales to rise 13.6% in 2014, which is unchanged from last month's estimate. In 2015, the panel sees retail sales expanding a lesser 13.5%.