SHANGHAI–After a very quiet August with subdued consumer spending, initial travel data for China’s holiday season is off to a more promising start.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that over the three days of the Midautumn Festival–Sep. 19 to 21,–88,159,399 domestic trips were taken, equivalent to 87.2 percent of 2019 levels. Associated spending during those days was 37.15 trillion renminbi, or 78.6 percent of 2019 spending.
Stakes are high for the fall holiday period. In February, the population was encouraged not to go home during Chinese New Year for fear that travel could spread a massive COVID-19 virus outbreak. Because Midautumn Festival this year runs closer than usual October 1st National Day holiday, only sitting on week apart, it offers a long rare stretch of vacation time to Chinese workers. It’s customary for office staff to only get five days off a year, combined with 31 days of public holidays.
A Bank of America note published Tuesday predicted that “the consumption trend will likely remain fragile in the coming months.”
“With the current new COVID outbreak in Fujian province, a total of 363 cases during Sep. 10 to 19, disruptions to services consumption could continue, following the significant hit in August. Travel-tourism demand during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays (Sep. 19 to 21 and Oct. 1 to 7, respectively) could potentially see some material impact as well,” the note said.
Chinese retail sales in August grew just 2.5 percent year over year, well below the 7 percent growth expected by industry analysts, and the second month in a row it missed expectations. July was impacted by flooding in Henan and numbers fell even further in August as Delta cluster outbreaks suddenly halted non-essential travel plans, impacting summer school holiday spending, and canceled many events.