China: Retail sales expand at the fastest pace in 11 months
January 17, 2012
In December, nominal retail sales grew 18.1% over the same month the year before, which exceeded the 17.3% increase recorded in November and marked the fastest pace of expansion in 11 months. Moreover, the robust reading overshot market expectations of a 17.3% rise. The increase was mainly driven by higher sales of jewellery and home appliances, while sales of automobiles and oil moderated. Seasonally adjusted data were in line with the annual figures, with retail sales rising 1.41% over the previous month, which overshot November's 1.28% increase. Nevertheless, the trend continued to moderate, with annual average growth in retail sales inching down from 17.2% in November to 17.1% in December. In addition, retail sales in 2011 were below the 18.5% expansion observed in 2010. The slowing trend in retail sales is consistent with the moderation recently seen in consumer confidence. In November, the consumer confidence index published by the National Bureau of Statistics dropped to 97.0 points from 100.5 points in October, which represents the first time since February in which the index has fallen below the 100-point threshold that separates optimistic from pessimistic territory.