GO
Loading...

China's slowing consumers—a bump to US companies?

Add this to the laundry list of headaches for corporate America:

The Chinese consumer is slowing.

Beijing subway commuters purchase Pepsi-Cola soft drinks.
Raul Vasquez | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Beijing subway commuters purchase Pepsi-Cola soft drinks.

Watch for signs of weakness when China's monthly retail sales data are reported Friday.

Economists are looking for a gain of 12.1 percent in May, according to Reuters, a slight increase from the 11.9 percent rise in April.

That could prove overly optimistic, based on recent signals on the Chinese consumer.

Read More Central banks, data to dominate week in Asia

Data over the weekend showed imports fell 1.6 percent in May. That surprised economists who predicted a 6.1 percent gain in imports and marked a slowdown from April's 0.8 percent gain. The import data are regarded by economists as a strong signal of weaker domestic demand.

There's more.

Read More World Cup fever in Asia: Sick notes and no sleep

In April, Hong Kong's retail sales fell 9.8 percent from the previous year, nearly double the decline economists expected.

The drop was blamed on falling sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts, which plummeted 39.9 percent in that month from a year earlier.

Hong Kong's retail sales are a good proxy for Chinese consumer spending, as much of the luxury shopping in the city is done by Chinese tourists and visitors.

Italian luxury giant Prada came out with results last week that underwhelmed investors, in part because of a drop in sales in the Asia-Pacific region. Remy Cointreau, which mostly sells cognac, saw profit plunge nearly 40 percent last quarter, driven by weakness in China and a crackdown there on corporate gift giving.

Read More Gucci CEO confident about future of luxury

In an effort to fight the slowdown, China's central bank announced new easing plans over the weekend—it's cutting the required reserve ration by 0.5 percent for banks that lend to small businesses and rural borrowers.

The signs add up to a troublesome picture of the Chinese consumer, and that's a problem for corporate America.

How big of a problem?

Read More Asia shares end mixed after China PMI, central bank decisions

As investors look to the second-quarter earnings season, a few companies are more exposed than others and could find China sales a drag on results.

Consumer Edge Research found that consumer staples companies are in the crosshairs.

Among the group, Procter & Gamble is most exposed to a Chinese consumer slowdown, with 8 percent of total sales coming from China, followed by Anheuser-Busch InBev at 7 percent of sales from the nation and Coca-Cola with 7 percent as well.

Food companies like Mondelez International, General Mills, PepsiCo and Hershey's all receive 2 percent of total sales from China.

Some foreign-listed consumer companies that are exposed include Danone and Nestle.

Read More China May exports gain steam but imports fall

While 2 to 8 percent of total sales doesn't sound like much, in a world where growth is hard to come by, it could sway results.

Watch out for bumps as we head toward second-quarter earnings.

—By CNBC's Sara Eisen.

Contact Retail

  • CNBC NEWSLETTERS

    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    › Learn More