China Retail April 2021


China: Retail sales growth wanes in April

May 17, 2021

Retail sales increased 17.7% year-on-year in April (March: +34.2% yoy), markedly undershooting market expectations.

On a monthly basis, retail sales rose 0.3% in seasonally-adjusted terms in April, which was below March’s 0.9% expansion. Meanwhile, the trend improved significantly, with the annual average growth of retail sales coming in at plus 11.0% in April, up from March's 8.9%.

Stronger private spending should be an important growth driver later this year—after lagging other indicators such as industrial production in 2020—as sentiment improves and the labor market strengthens.

On the outlook for private spending in light of April’s weaker-than-expected retail sales reading, Ho Woei Chen, economist at United Overseas Bank, commented:

“The survey jobless rate is at its lowest since November 2019 when it was at the same rate. The improvement in the labour market supports optimism for consumption recovery ahead even though private spending has remained cautious due to the uncertainties, including the flare up in Covid-19 infections across Asia.”

FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants expect retail sales to increase 14.4% in 2021, which is up 1.5 percentage points from last month’s estimate. In 2022, the panel foresees retail sales expanding 7.2%.


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China Retail Chart

China Retail April 2021 1

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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