China’s retail sales growth slowed in the first half of the year, despite the government’s efforts to stimulate economic growth by trying to boost domestic consumption.
The National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that total retail sales of consumer goods rose 14.4 percent to 9.82 trillion yuan ($1.56 trillion) in the first six months, a real growth of 11.2 percent after adjusting for inflation.
The figure was 0.4 percentage points lower than that in the first quarter, and 2.4 percentage points lower than in the first half of 2011.
Tang Jianwei, an analyst at the Bank of Communications Financial Studies Center, blamed the lower-than-expected sales growth on the “weak effect of the economic policies to improve investment and consumption”.
The statistics bureau disclosed that retail sales in urban areas reached 8.51 trillion yuan, up by 14.3 percent year-on-year. Retail sales in rural areas stood at 1.31 trillion yuan, up by 14.5 percent year-on-year.
The sales of motor vehicles rose by 9.1 percent, furniture grew up by 25.1 percent, and household appliances and audio-visual equipment went up by 3.3 percent.
In June alone, total retail sales of consumer goods rose by 13.7 percent year-on-year, a real growth of 12.1 percent after deducting price factors.
But Tang said the slow growth in domestic consumption was largely a result of the sluggish automobile and real estate markets.
The country’s auto sales began to slow last year after some cities imposed tough restrictions on car numbers to ease traffic congestion and pollution.
Guangzhou earlier this month rolled out a cap on the number of cars allowed to be registered, spurring concerns more cities would follow suit, he said.
Tang added that he expects more policies to stimulate consumption to come out in the second half of this year.
Lu Zhengwei, chief economist with Industrial Bank, said that with consumer prices easing to a 29-month low of 2.2 percent in June, retail sales will stabilize in the following months that will shore up domestic demand.
Premier Wen Jiabao said last weekend that domestic demand continues to act as a major driver of the nation’s growth.
Meanwhile, the growth of urban and rural incomes has maintained good momentum, with rural incomes growing quicker than the urban equivalents.
In the first half, the per capita disposable income of urban residents was 12,509 yuan, a year-on-year growth of 13.3 percent, which was 2.1 percentage points higher than that in the same period of 2011.
The per capita cash income of rural residents was 4,303 yuan, up by 16.1 percent year-on-year.
Wang Jun, a senior economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a government think tank, said the government’s increasing investment in agricultural production and rural infrastructures has played a role in lifting up the rural incomes.
The number of rural migrant workers is on the rise, with 166.67 million in the first half, up by 2.6 percent year-on-year.
The average monthly income of migrant workers was 2,200 yuan, up by 14.9 percent year-on-year.