China: Retail sales tumble in January-February as consumers stay at home
In January-February, nominal retail sales tumbled 20.5% on an annual basis. The print was not only the sharpest decline on record, but the first time that retail sales decline since the start of the current series in 1993. The print contrasted the 8.0% rise in December and largely undershot the 4.0% decrease that market analysts had expected. Retail sales plummeted across all the sub-categories.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, retail sales fell 4.5% in February, above the 9.4% drop in January. Meanwhile, annual average growth in retail sales fell from 8.1% in December to 5.7% in the first two months of the year.
The coronavirus outbreak weighed on retail sales as consumers avoided crowded places like shopping malls and restaurants. In fact, data for January-February shows that the services sector beared the brunt of the virus shock.