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China Golden Week Retail Sales Grow

The weeklong public holiday saw national retail spending rise 13.6 percent on the year.

SHANGHAI — Despite the central government’s ongoing frugality campaign, China’s retail sales grew over the recent Golden Week holidays.

This story first appeared in the October 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The weeklong public holiday, which celebrates the anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, saw national retail spending rise 13.6 percent on the year to 870 billion yuan, or $142 billion at current exchange. That figure represents a slowdown from the 15 percent growth posted last year, but last year’s holiday period was a day longer than usual due to Golden Week coinciding with the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Although the annual October Golden Week ostensibly celebrates the 64-year history of Communist government in China, the occasion has, in recent years, become a veritable festival of consumerism, with both online and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers running countless promotions to coincide with the holiday.

According to a report released Monday evening by China’s Ministry of Commerce, heavy discounting was largely responsible for the increase in holiday retail spending.

Ministry figures show clothing, shoes, jewelry, electronics and home appliances among the most popular items with local consumers.

Jewelry counters across the country did a particularly brisk trade, helped by the lower price of gold compared with this time last year. Shanghai-based jewelry chain Lao Miao Huang Jin (Old Temple Gold) reported sales of gold and silver jewelry over the Golden Week period were up 55 percent year-on-year.

These domestic retail spending figures don’t take into account the increasing amount of yuan being spent by Chinese holiday-makers who choose to spend the Golden Week abroad.

Retailers in Europe’s fashion capitals, in particular, have become more focused on winning a larger slice of the Golden Week pie, with many running special promotional activities aimed at Chinese shoppers throughout the holiday period.

Harrods in London, for example, offered an exclusive Double Eight collection, designed by Mikimoto, and just prior to the holiday launched an official Harrods WeChat account, as well as Mandarin-language Harrods iPad apps.