Evidence is piling up that Chinese consumer spending won’t be enough to power the country’s economy past its trade trouble with the US, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Demand for apartments, cars and even fruit is slackening. Online sales continue to boom, but buying habits are growing cautious and shifting toward household staples such as milk. Sliding prices for many consumer items and falling imports likewise point to cooling demand.
Passenger-car sales declined almost 15% in May year-on-year, down further from a slide of about 10% in the first four months of 2019. Imports fell 8.5% in May from the year before – a big downshift from the double-digit growth of 2018 – while exports edged up 1.1%.
Home-sales momentum has also appeared to falter, rising 8.9% in the January-to-May period after gaining nearly 11% during the first four months of the year. Economists consider real estate to be China’s most important sector, and less buying would affect nearly every industry from steel to appliances.
Growth in domestic infrastructure spending decelerated in the January-May period to 4% from 4.4% in the first four months of the year and double-digit increases in previous years. Still, retail sales this year are ticking up faster than gross domestic product.