China: Retail sales moderate sharply in the first two months of 2013
March 9, 2013
In the January-February period, nominal retail sales grew 12.3% over the same period last year. The print represents the weakest expansion recorded in a January-February period since 2004. The statistical institute reports the first two months of the year together to avoid seasonal distortions related to the Lunar New Year holiday. The reading undershot both the 15.2% increase seen in December and market expectations of a 13.8% rise. The deterioration seen in the January-February period was mainly due to lower growth in sales of automobiles as well as of petroleum and related products.
Compared to the previous month, retail sales expanded in February a seasonally adjusted 0.99%, following the 0.17% increase tallied in January. Building on the weak start of the year, the trend continues to point downwards, with annual average growth in retail sales falling from 14.3% in December to 13.9% in February.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants expect retail sales to rise 15.3% in 2013, which is up 0.1 percentage points from last month's estimate. In 2014, the panel sees retail sales expanding 15.2%.