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China Beige Book Unveils Surge in Consumer Spending: “Revenge Spending” Phenomenon Takes Center Stage

China’s economic landscape witnessed a noteworthy shift as China Beige Book International (CBBI) unveiled its economic survey on August 31. Following a brief slowdown in consumer spending during July, the latest report sheds light on a dramatic reversal of this trend.

The comprehensive survey, based on insights gathered from 1,300 Chinese private companies surveyed between August 17 and 25, revealed a heartening resurgence in consumer activity. A remarkable surge was observed across a spectrum of sectors, including clothing, automobiles, food, furniture, appliances, and luxury goods. These categories experienced substantial improvements in sales compared to the preceding month of July.

The month of August witnessed the emergence of a novel trend in China’s service sector, aptly termed “Revenge Spending” or “Revenge Shopping.” This phenomenon, catalyzed by the aftermath of the COVID-19 era, saw consumers expressing their pent-up demand for shopping and services after extended periods of limited mobility. The prolonged lockdowns due to COVID-19 containment measures had curtailed consumers’ ability to engage in leisurely shopping or freely access services.

The China Beige Book report elucidates that this phenomenon led to a robust surge in service consumption during August. Various aspects of the service sector, including travel services, restaurant sales, and hotel business, experienced notable upticks in response to this trend.

A parallel trend was observed in borrowing patterns among private companies. In August, these entities exhibited heightened borrowing activities, a stark contrast to the subdued borrowing sentiment that prevailed in July. During the prior month, both household and private borrowing demands had experienced a slump.

While August painted a vibrant picture of resurging economic activities, the China Beige Book also provided insights into sectors that faced challenges. Notably, the real estate sector remained entrenched in a state of depression during August. However, employment data offered a silver lining, with August experiencing accelerated growth in employment across various sectors.

China Beige Book’s findings also highlighted the remarkable recovery of spending during the “Qixi Festival,” China’s own version of Valentine’s Day, celebrated on August 22. The tradition of gift-giving and dining out marked a resurgence of festive celebrations.

As China navigates the intricate dynamics of economic resurgence, the notion of “Revenge Spending” and its implications continue to underscore the complex interplay between consumer behavior, economic recovery, and evolving market trends. These trends, along with the persistence of challenges in certain sectors, encapsulate the nuanced story of China’s economic journey in recent times.

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