BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhua) -- China's retail sales of consumer goods, a major gauge of the country's consumption strength, continued to expand in the first half of this year, as the ongoing economic recovery and rise in residents' income have stimulated an increased propensity among consumers to spend generously, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Monday.
China's retail sales of consumer goods maintained a relatively fast growth of 8.2 percent year on year in January-June, 2.4 percentage points higher than that of the first quarter. The country's retail sales of consumer goods totaled around 22.76 trillion yuan (about 3.19 trillion U.S. dollars) in the period, according to the NBS.
In June alone, retail sales went up 3.1 percent year on year, data from the NBS showed.
"In general, the consumption potential has been gradually released in the first half of the year, and consumption maintains a good momentum of recovery, giving a boost to the country's economic growth and people's living standard," NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui told a press conference.
With a contribution of 77.2 percent to the economic growth, consumption has played an increasingly prominent role in driving the country's economy in the first half of the year, Fu added.
"As the society and economy fully resumed normal operations, the economy is recovering, the consumption scenarios are expanding, policies to promote consumption are taking effect, spending by residents is steadily growing, and market retail sales are accelerating," Fu said.
Traveling and contact-based service consumption registered fast expansion in the first half of the year, with dining out, communication, and tourism activities ballooning, according to Fu. The catering sector saw its revenue climb by 21.4 percent year on year.
NBS data showed that the trend of consumption upgrading has extended. The retail sales of gold, silver and jewelry, as well as that of sports and recreation goods, increased by 17.5 percent and 10.5 percent year on year in the first six months, respectively.
Online retail sales remained a bright spot. In the first six months, online retail sales jumped 13.1 percent year on year to top 7.16 trillion yuan. The online retail sales of physical goods went up by 10.8 percent year on year, accounting for 26.6 percent of the total retail sales of consumer goods.
Fu noted that green and digital consumption have become new drivers of consumption growth. Supporting this claim, he cited impressive figures revealing a remarkable 37.3 percent year-on-year surge in sales of new energy passenger vehicles, surpassing 3 million units in the first half of 2023.
"For the entire year, there are plenty of favorable conditions to bolster consumption growth, and the consumption will continue to expand," Fu said.
He cited factors such as a better employment situation this year, which will increase the income of urban and rural residents and strengthen their spending power, and more significant underpinnings for the consumption uptick prompted by new consumption scenarios.
In the next step, China will further unleash the consumption potential, help increase the incomes of urban and rural residents by all means, continue implementing policies to boost consumption, and foster and expand new forms of consumption to promote stable, sustainable and healthy economic development, Fu said.
Monday's data also showed that China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.5 percent year on year in the first half of 2023 to reach 59.3 trillion yuan. In the second quarter, the country's GDP expanded 6.3 percent year on year, according to the NBS. ■