Consumption, a buzzword highlighted not only in this year"s Government Work Report but also during the newly-concluded two sessions, will witness further recovery and expansion this year, with preferential policies gradually taking effect, industry experts said.
Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University International Business School, said: "The recovery and expansion of consumption have been prioritized by the Central Economic Work Conference late last year. In the short term, we think the government will continue to focus on policy support for the stability of consumption, while in the long term, the government will focus on increasing the support of consumption by improving residents" income levels in the future."
At the beginning of this year, Sheng Qiuping, vice-minister of commerce, said at a news conference that this year"s target was to prop up consumption. The Ministry of Commerce will give priority to the recovery and expansion of consumption, focus on improving consumption conditions, innovate consumption scenarios, create a consumption atmosphere, boost consumer confidence and further strengthen the fundamental role of consumption.
And the consumption sector did witness recovery. Official data showed that during this year"s Spring Festival holiday, the sales revenue recorded in consumption-related sectors surged 12.2 percent year-on-year — 12.4 percent higher than that of 2019. Sales revenues of restaurant and hotel chains rose 16.4 percent and 30.6 percent on a yearly basis, respectively.
Many listed companies said that they experienced a recovery in consumption and are anticipating a boom in consumption this year.
"During the Spring Festival holiday, catering demand skyrocketed and we witnessed a sales revenue surge. With the market recovering, the company"s operation is getting back on the growth track," said roast duck chain China Quanjude Group in a recent announcement.
Hot pot chain Xiabu Xiabu said that the company"s performance is also recovering and the group will continue its expansion strategy this year, with more openings in the pipeline.
According to the China Commerce Association for General Merchandise, during this year"s Spring Festival holiday, customer traffic in major shopping malls surged 10 percent year-on-year.
Hong Yong, an associate research fellow in the e-commerce research department of the Ministry of Commerce, said: "To realize high-quality development in the consumption sector, enterprises should prioritize product quality as consumers have increasing demands. In addition, they should increase brand influence, as more consumers now tend to buy products from famous brands. Technology advancement is also important, considering its role in helping adapt to market changes and consumer demands."
Fu Yifu, a senior research fellow at the Star Atlas Institute of Finance, said: "Online and offline consumption scenarios should be innovated. For example, themed shopping festivals and the nighttime economy should be considered. Consumer demand under different consumption scenarios should be taken into consideration.
"In addition, consumption subsidies like vouchers should be offered to promote consumption. The government should step up efforts to stabilize employment, further reduce taxes and fees and increase financial support to increase consumer income, which will enhance their willingness to consume," Fu said.
Lai Yang, an expert with the China General Chamber of Commerce, said, "The government should further prioritize its business environment to eliminate operation barriers so that enterprises, especially small and medium-sized ones, can make innovations."