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Retail sales in China fell for a third straight month in May as lockdowns under President Xi Jinping’s zero Covid strategy dampened growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
Retail sales fell 6.7% from the same period a year ago, according to official figures, but still exceeded the 7.1% decline that had been forecast by analysts polled by Reuters.
That marked a slight improvement from the April reading, when authorities implemented severe lockdowns in Shanghai and sales fell 11.1%. Sales were also broadly flat compared to April.
But China’s industrial production, which measures the output of the country’s mining, factory and utility sector, rebounded in May, gaining 0.7% from the same period a year ago. Analysts had predicted a decline by the same margin.
The National Bureau of Statistics said the rebound in industrial production was supported by growth in the production of new energy vehicles and solar cells, which rose 108.3% and 31.4% respectively year-on-year. . Retail sales, meanwhile, were dragged down by a 21.1% decline in restaurant spending.
The figures underscore how China has struggled to motivate its consumers to continue spending in the face of strict shutdowns, which have prevented some from going to work or visiting shops or restaurants.
Other official figures released on Wednesday showed residential property sales in the country were 41.7% lower in value than in the same period a year ago.
Property developers across the country were already struggling to contain a spreading liquidity crunch before strict lockdowns were imposed in the country’s most important cities in April and May.