Tourists shop at a duty-free shopping mall in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, on March 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
China plans to kick off the annual national consumption promotion campaign early next month, to further vitalize market entities, boost consumer market sentiment and fully meet people's consumption demand for a better life, the Ministry of Commerce said on Sunday.
The National Consumption Promotion Month, the annual campaign jointly organized by the ministry and a host of other ministry-level departments, will start on May 1, rather than during the second half of the year, as it used to do.
It will also include a wider range of events and activities in different places across the country, to promote consumption of various products and services online as well as offline. Some of the events and programs will start by the end of this month and last throughout the year.
Officials and experts said that while China's consumption market is recovering quickly from the impact of COVID-19, the campaign will provide new impetus to accelerate the replenishment and serve well the country's dual-circulation development paradigm, in which the domestic market is the mainstay and the domestic and foreign markets reinforce each other.
"As the epidemic has been under control, and Chinese consumer sentiment is perking up in spring and summer, the promotional campaign has its eyes on domestic demand expansion and is expected to further enhance the vitality of market players, unleash consumption potential, accelerate market recovery, and improve consumption quality," said ministry spokesman Gao Feng.
Data provided by the ministry showed that China's retail sales of consumer goods hit 10.52 trillion yuan ($1.62 trillion) during the first quarter, up 33.9 percent year-on-year. That also was an increase of 8.5 percent compared with the same period in 2019, and a rise of 1.86 percent compared with the fourth quarter of last year.
The country's consumer market recovery has been on an upswing since the second half of last year, and the upward momentum has become even more obvious since the beginning of this year, Gao said.
However, consumption replenishment is not balanced among different industries, business forms, products and regions, and people's consumption demand has not been fully met, he said.
The campaign will feature various offline activities and events, such as auto shows, time-honored brand exhibitions and shopping carnivals. In addition, online sales and promotions will be held for various products and services across a wide range of sectors, including catering, tourism, sports and education, with new business forms such as livestreaming e-commerce and customized production being widely adopted to meet consumers' diversified demands.
From May 7 to 10, the first China International Consumer Products Expo will be held in Haikou, Hainan province.
Gao said the expo will attract an abundance of domestic and international quality consumer products, and will bolster the interplay between the domestic and foreign markets to further dual-circulation development and better meet customer demand.
Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, expects that the promotion campaign, as part of the ministry's efforts to improve the consumption environment and create new consumption forms, will help expand domestic consumer demand.
"As industrial and consumption upgrade continues in China, while people's incomes are still growing, the potential of consumption expansion as a strategic basis for Chinese economic growth will be better tapped," Bai said.
According to Li Xuesong, deputy director of the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's economy has quickly rebounded from the impact of COVID-19, but consumption recovery is not as good as the recovery of investment and exports.
China should accelerate vaccination to speed up the recovery of consumption, especially consumption in the services sector, said Li.
He also suggested that the country deepen reforms to inject more vitality into the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, lower interest rates to better support the real economy and thus improve employment, and enhance income distribution among industries and regions to increase people's incomes to further unleash consumption potential.