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Retail Sales Expected to Rise 8.5 Percent
Despite the short-term negative influence from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), China's retail sales of consumer products in 2003 is expected to rise 8.5 percent over last year.

The forecast jointly made by the China General Chamber of Commerce and a national information network calculated that retail sales in China beat the odds to grow 8 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year.

Of the sectors most affected by the SARS epidemic in April and May, wholesalers and retailers lost some 2.78 billion yuan (about US$334.94 million) and the catering sector lost 18.9 billion yuan (about US$2.28 billion).

By contrast, cars, IT products, medicine, cleaning agents, disinfectants, sanitation products, sports facilities and anti-SARS electrical goods registered major gains in retail sales in the same two months.

The two organizations predicted a 9 percent rise in retail sales in the second half of this year, attributing the growth to the release of people's pent-up consumption desires.

They said sales of construction and decoration materials would grow rapidly as people hasten to carry out plans delayed by SARS. For the same reason, sales of digital cameras would rise quickly as tourism returns to normal.

(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2003)

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