China’s retail sales grew 10.6 percent in January and February combined compared with the same period last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Sales volume during the two months totalled 638 billion yuan (US$76 billion), the bureau revealed in a monthly report.
The report said the rapid growth can be attributed to store managers’ improved marketing tactics, but added that some of those tactics may have tested the bounds of legality.
January and February comprise the bulk of China’s biggest shopping season, which revolves around the Spring Festival, the country's most important traditional holiday on January 24 this year.
Retails sales during the January 24-31 period rocketed up 46.8 percent this year, according to the report.
Besides offering the typical sales and discounts, a number of stores in China’s biggest cities used controversial shopping coupons to boost their sales numbers.
The coupons, which offered discounts on certain items, were given to customers who had already purchased goods from the stores. Tempted by the prospect of an endless string of coupons, and hence good deals, many consumers reportedly launched themselves into spending sprees they could not afford.
In late January, commercial authorities banned the issue of coupons out of fear that they could victimize shoppers and disrupt financial order. Authorities also said all coupons previously issued had to be used by the end of February.
This announcement triggered a new shopping peak in retail sales in late February.
The bureau’s report said large supermarkets seemed to have the upper hand in competing with smaller shops during the first two months of the year because they were able to provide a greater variety of goods and lower prices.
(China Daily 03/17/2001)