BEIJING, March 15 (Xinhua) -- China's retail sales of consumer goods rebounded in the first two months of 2023 as COVID-triggered restrictions on consumption gradually waned and market demand and vitality improved.
The country's retail sales of consumer goods rose 3.5 percent year on year to 7.7 trillion yuan (about 1.12 trillion U.S. dollars), reversing declines seen in the previous three months, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Wednesday.
"The rebound of consumption is a major bright spot of China's economic operations in the first two months of this year," NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui told a press conference.
Fu attributed the recovery in retail sales partly to the revival of contact-based and service-related consumption.
The consumption of travel, culture absorption, and entertainment regained momentum between January and February due to the combined effects of the boost of China's Spring Festival holiday and the removal of the pandemic's impact on consumption, Fu said.
Domestic trips during the Spring Festival holiday rose 23.1 percent year on year, official data showed.
China's catering sector saw its revenue increase by 9.2 percent from a year ago in the first two months, much better than the drop registered in December last year.
Commodity sales improved in the first two months. For instance, retail sales of grain, oil, and food went up by 9 percent, while that of gold, silver, and jewelry saw an increase of 5.9 percent, NBS data showed.
Also, retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores improved significantly, and online retail sales maintained steady growth, Fu said.
In the first two months, retail sales at department stores climbed by 5.5 percent, while online sales of physical goods increased by 5.3 percent over the previous year, indicating a strengthening consumption recovery.
"Overall, consumption's contribution to economic growth will significantly improve in 2023 compared with last year," Fu said.
China will expand domestic demand in 2023, prioritizing the recovery and expansion of consumption, according to this year's government work report.
Supportive measures have been rolled out nationwide. These measures include launching consumption promotion festivals and issuing vouchers for automobile purchases. ■