China’s retail sales growth was lower than expected in November with consumers cautious as domestic coronavirus cases resurfaced, official data showed Wednesday, but industrial output picked up after power shortages eased.
A rebound in the world’s second-biggest economy has been losing steam this year, with indicators remaining muted last month, after the country made a swift recovery from the coronavirus helped by strict border controls and targeted lockdowns.
But economists noted that a recent domestic flare-up, where virus infections hit 21 provinces and regions, likely led to more cautious consumer behaviour as containment measures kicked in.
Retail sales rose 3.9 percent on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Wednesday, below expectations and markedly slower than October’s 4.9 percent rate.
“The international environment has become more complex and severe, and there are still many constraints on domestic economy recovery,” NBS said in a statement.
“Passenger traffic data suggest that consumers grew more cautious,” said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, in a recent note.
He added there had also been “downbeat signals” from Singles’ Day — an unofficial annual shopping holiday similar to Black Friday — and figures such as car and cinema ticket sales.
Industrial production growth picked up to 3.8 percent in November, in line with a Bloomberg consensus poll.
This came as manufacturing activity showed signs of rebounding as disruptions from power shortages eased.
Power outages in recent months affected by emission reduction targets, the surging price of coal, and supply shortages had hit some factory production.
Meanwhile, the urban unemployment rate ticked up to five percent last month, from 4.9 percent, official data showed.
“Even though power supply shortages have eased recently, elevated input prices will linger through the first half of 2022, and sluggish domestic demand could be a longer-term drag,” Moody’s Analytics warned on Monday.