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Spring Festival consumption boom: good start for Chinese economy in 2024

Liu Chunsheng

Crowd enjoying Spring Festival celebrations flocked to the Confucius Temple, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, February 16, 2024. /CFP
Crowd enjoying Spring Festival celebrations flocked to the Confucius Temple, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, February 16, 2024. /CFP

Crowd enjoying Spring Festival celebrations flocked to the Confucius Temple, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, February 16, 2024. /CFP

Editor's note: Liu Chunsheng is an associate professor at the Beijing-based Central University of Finance and Economics. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

With the rapid development of China's economy and the upgrading of consumption, the Spring Festival, the most important traditional festival of China, has evolved into an important window for observing and analyzing the trends and characteristics of the Chinese consumer market. In recent years, Spring Festival consumption data has not only highlighted China's strong domestic demand as a driving force, but also revealed the new direction of China's economic transformation and upgrading.

In terms of the scale of the Spring Festival consumer market, according to consumer insight released by Meituan on February 15, the lifestyle service industry achieved a strong start with a year-on-year growth of 36 percent in daily consumption during the Spring Festival holiday, an increase of over 155 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

China Unicom's Smart Footprint data shows that customer flow in key commercial districts across the country increased by 73 percent compared to the same period last year since the twenty-third day of the twelfth lunar month (one week before the Spring Festival). This fully demonstrates the strong consumption demand and enormous consumption potential of Chinese residents.

The Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant authorities, jointly organized the online Spring Festival Shopping Festival. This is the first of the 12 key events of the 2024 "Consumer Promotion Year", aiming to stimulate the Spring Festival consumer market and better meet the needs of the people during the holiday. Since its launch, online retail sales have reached nearly 800 billion yuan ($111.2 billion), an increase of nearly 9 percent compared to the same period last year.

Various regions in China have seized new opportunities for "Silk Road e-commerce" development. For example, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan, Heilongjiang, and other places have launched activities such as "Global Imported Goods Exhibition" and "Xiangyu Silk Road", promoting the nationwide online sales of high-quality and distinctive products from ASEAN, Central Asia, and other countries, meeting the consumer demand of worldwide shopping without leaving the country.

In recent years, one of the biggest characteristics of the Spring Festival consumer market is the increasingly evident trend of consumption upgrading. This is mainly reflected in consumers' continuous increase in quality requirements for goods and services. Data shows that high-end consumer goods, organic food, smart homes, and other products have achieved significant sales growth during the period. Platforms such as Suning.com and JD.com have shown that "New Year Economy" is driving the sales of large-screen TVs. Additionally, green and smart home appliances are favored, with floor cleaners, dishwashers, and smart locks becoming the "new three essentials" of household life. 

Another characteristic of Spring Festival consumption is the rise of cultural and tourism consumption. Cultural consumption such as tourism, movies, and reading has become a new growth point. Data from Meituan showed that in the first four days of the Spring Festival holiday, the volume of tourism orders for accommodations, scenic areas, and transportation more than doubled compared to the previous year. In addition, national box office revenue over the Spring Festival period also reached a historical high. These data indicate that cultural and tourism consumption has become an important force driving China's economic growth.

The Spring Festival consumer market is an important manifestation of China's steady and robust economic development. It encompasses a series of new features such as consumption upgrading, innovative consumption patterns, and optimized consumption structure, which have a profound influence on promoting high-quality economic development in China. 

As one of the "three drivers" of economic growth, the stability and sustainability of consumption directly affect the speed and quality of China's economic growth. This is even more prominent in the current complex and volatile global economy, highlighting the significance of driving domestic demand.

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