BEIJING — The massive earthquake that struck southwestern China on Monday left only moderate damage in the retail areas of Chengdu — the largest city near the quake's epicenter — cutting power and leaving most stores closed. But economists said the quake and its human toll will test consumer confidence both locally and nationwide.

Less than 24 hours after China's largest quake in decades, retail shops in the commercial heart of Chengdu reported little physical damage to buildings. Still, telephone communications were spotty and electricity remained out in several parts of the city. Thousands of residents opted to huddle in the rain to avoid entering buildings for fear of aftershocks and falling debris, according to local reports and China's state-run media. In most shopping areas, only restaurants and supermarkets were open for business, observers said.

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