China's push to stoke spending in the sluggish retail sector began on Friday with Beijing households given subsidies to buy electrical appliances, in the first of what is expected to be a barrage of incentives to revive private consumption.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's state planner, on Tuesday unveiled a raft of measures to boost consumption of goods ranging from eco-friendly appliances to big-ticket items such as cars, the sales of which have plunged in recent months.
State media on Wednesday announced the incentives that give Beijing households subsidies of up to $120 every time they purchase a television or refrigerator. The subsidy program will last three years. It covers 15 categories of appliances, with the condition that they must be energy-saving.
No details were provided on the program's full scope or whether other cities would unveil similar incentives.
Shares of major appliance makers Gree Electric Appliances and Midea Group have risen 4.8 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, since the NDRC's Tuesday announcement, outperforming a 2.9 percent gain for the blue-chip stock index.
At a GOME outlet in downtown Beijing on Friday, a media executive visited the home appliance store determined to take advantage of the subsidies.
"We came here yesterday, and the salesman told us that the subsidies would take effect today. So we came back," said the 35-year-old shopper who declined to give her name as she paid for a refrigerator.
Beijing is trying to fire up growth engines, with the world's second-biggest economy expected to further slow in 2019.
In addition to subsidies designed to boost retail sales growth — which sank to a 15-year low last year — other stimulus steps include easier monetary policy to encourage bank lending and tax cuts.