HONG KONG – Chinese consumers spent $180 billion domestically during the Golden Week holiday, rising 10.7 percent from the year before, Chinese Ministry of Commerce data showed.
Enterprises in the retail and catering sectors raked in 1.2 trillion yuan, or $178.59 billion at current exchange, from Oct. 1 to 7, one of the nation’s biggest shopping periods pegged to its National Day. Western parts of the country — Chongqing, Sichuan and Hunan — saw the biggest rise growing 13, 12 and 11.6 percent respectively. Gold and jewelry were the most popular buys.
Despite the double-digit rise, the rate of growth was still slower than the 12.1 percent year-on-year growth seen in 2015.
It was also in spite of the government’s efforts to encourage more spending at home. Higher domestic spending is a key pillar of Beijing’s plan to stimulate the economy, which grew 6.7 percent in the first half of the year. For example, on October 1 it cut taxes on nonluxury beauty goods.
Still on Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang commented, “The economy this year, especially in the third quarter, is better than expected.” He cited increased growth in the consumer and service sector, according to state media Xinhua.
The Ministry of Commerce numbers are in addition to the estimated $7.2 billion in spending done by Chinese who headed elsewhere for the holiday.
Macau welcomed 970,000 Mainland Chinese visitors during the seven-day period, a 6.9 percent increase. The case was not as rosy across the straits in Taiwan. Mainland Chinese tourism to the island has been steadily falling since the Democratic Progressive Party’s Tsai Ing-wen, viewed as anti-Beijing, took office.
On Tuesday, state media China Daily labeled her comments earlier this week that Taiwan would not bow to Beijing’s pressure as “clear distortions.”
One place that bucked the tourist dollar trend is Hong Kong. The city’s Travel Industry Council chairman Joseph Tung said the number of tourists to the city rose overall but that was unlikely to reflect positively on retail sales.
“I’m sure the retail sales amount has fallen but the city posted around a 10 percent rise in visitors,” Tung said. “What I find the most encouraging thing is there are higher numbers of travelers from other countries, not just the mainland.”
Tung said that events like the Formula-E races over the weekend helped draw a different kind of visitor, who didn’t necessarily come to shop. Mainland Chinese tourists visiting the city, if they were buying, were purchasing “ordinary goods and not luxury ones.”