China: Retail sales gain some ground in March
April 16, 2014
In March, nominal retail sales grew 12.2% over the same month last year, which overshot the 11.9% increase market analysts had expected. The expansion came in above the 11.8% increase tallied in the January-February period (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), which had represented the slowest growth rate since February 2009. The improvement mainly reflects an acceleration in sales of automobiles, household appliances and food and beverages.
Compared to the previous month, retail sales expanded a seasonally-adjusted 1.23% in March (February: +0.72% month-on-month). As a result of the deceleration observed in January and February, the trend deteriorated slightly, with annual average growth in retail sales inching down from 13.0% in the January-February period to 12.9% in March.
The government set a retail sales growth target of 14.5% for this year. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants expect retail sales to rise 13.3% in 2014, which is unchanged from last month's estimate. In 2015, the panel sees retail sales expanding a slightly-higher 13.4%.