China Economy

China's retail sales miss expectations again

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Key Points
  • Major indicators on China's retail sales and industrial activity for May missed analysts' expectations.
  • "China is still seeing an unbalanced recovery, as employment, household income, consumption, manufacturing investment, the service sector and private companies have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels," Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance, said in a statement.
Shoppers and pedestrians walk along Nanjing Road in Shanghai, China, on Sunday, June 6, 2021.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

BEIJING — China said Wednesday that retail sales rose 12.4% in May, missing expectations despite government efforts to boost spending and a major holiday during the month.

Analysts had expected retail sales to rise 13.6% in May from a year ago.

Consumer spending has lagged China's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. In April, retail sales climbed a less-than-expected 17.7% from a year ago.

Indicators on other parts of the economy also came in below expectations.

Industrial production rose 8.8% from a year ago in May, less than the 9% growth forecast by analysts.

Fixed asset investment during the first five months of the year rose 15.4% from a year ago, missing the 16.9% growth forecast from analysts polled by Reuters.

A spokesman for China's statistics bureau told reporters the economy faced "new" situations at home and abroad in May.

He noted that business activity in the services sector, which has also lagged the overall recovery, is improving and the industry would be able to absorb more workers.

The overall unemployment rate for cities fell to 5% in May, but that for people from 16 to 24 years old edged up to 13.8%.

"China is still seeing an unbalanced recovery, as employment, household income, consumption, manufacturing investment, the service sector and private companies have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels," Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance, said in a statement.