Consumer purchases during "Golden Week" stimulate China's economic recovery.
The traditional mid-autumn festival is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar. Originally conceived as a harvest festival, this holiday (which was declared a national holiday in 2008) is now a way of celebrating family unity: in fact, many families take advantage of the break to get together and celebrate in the spirit of tradition. The week of festivities that coincides with this period is also known as "Golden Week", because of the enormous mobilization that each year it generates in terms of tourism from inside and outside.
This year, Golden Week has taken on a particular relevance for the Chinese people as it also coincided with the Chinese National Day, the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which took place on October 1, 1949.
Despite the pandemic, consumer spending in China during this year's Golden Week increased compared to previous years, laying the groundwork for continued economic growth and demonstrating greater confidence among the Chinese people.
As reported by the Ministry of Commerce, retail sales and restaurant revenues in China were 4.9% higher than during last year's Golden Week, and overall sales amounted to 1.6 trillion yuan (about 200 billion euros). Strong vacation spending could boost retail sales by 3 to 4 percent in October compared to the same period last year.
Online sales were also on the rise: the Alibaba platform reported that sales of its leading online e-commerce store for foreign brands, Tmall Global, increased by 79% during the first seven days of October, compared to the same period in 2019.
China, in other words, has been able to turn an extremely difficult situation into a great asset. Since tourists have not been able to travel abroad, the number of people who moved while staying in China reached 637 million, and the related spending was more than 460 billion yuan (about 58 million euros). Tourist visits increased by more than 40%, while duty-free sales more than doubled from last year. Records report 1.04 billion yuan (about 131 million euros) in sales, an increase of about 150% over last year. Among the most popular destinations, in addition to the classic visits to Beijing or Shanghai, this year stands out the domestic tropical island of Hainan.
Data provided by Trip.com (the largest tourism booking platform in China) also highlight the increase in demand in domestic tourism. The number of hotel bookings doubled (compared to the previous month), with four- and five-star hotels accounting for nearly half of all bookings. In addition, tourists prefer to have longer vacation periods, with the number of guests staying in a hotel for seven days or more during Golden Week. This figure is the fastest growing compared to the previous month.
As domestic demand increased, so did prices for a wide variety of products. This figure undoubtedly indicates a strong recovery from the not so good start of the year.
Looking to the future of the Chinese economy, experts believe that it will be services that will lead the recovery in the coming months, given that exports and infrastructure have been the key factors so far. The data shows that consumers in the world's second largest economy have a high level of confidence with spending on the rise, despite the aftermath of an epidemic that is taking a long time to die down in the rest of the world.
This widespread and constant confidence shown by Chinese consumers could represent a great opportunity for exporting countries like Italy, and for regions rich in unique products like Abruzzo. The agri-food market, in fact, can help to revive our local economy as well. Our excellences, such as wine and oil, represent a huge lever for our economy and, considering the uncertainty of this historical moment, could find a new foothold just by looking to the East.
Edited by: Lawyer Carlo D'Andrea, Vice President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and Managing Partner of Studio D'Andrea & Partners