Beijing believes China’s economy will recover quickly from the coronavirus outbreak that is threatening global growth. However, two separate indicators show the nation’s downturn is unlikely to end anytime soon, reported the Financial Times.
The first is average traffic congestion across 100 Chinese cities, based on daily figures provided by Wind, a data provider. Compared to 1.5 in 2019 after the Lunar New Year holiday, this year the ratio dropped to a record low of less than 1.2 and has since only inched back above that level.
The second indicator is box-office takings, which usually soar during the Lunar New Year period as people squeeze into theaters. But revenue in the first eight weeks of 2020 totalled just RMB 2.6 billion ($372 million), down more than 80% from a year ago, according to Wind.
Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said the drop in cinema revenues, in particular, showed that even as some cities ease their containment measures, consumers are not yet willing to behave as they did before the outbreak began because of longer-term fears about a global threat.
“There’s going to be ongoing concerns about importing the infection back into China [from abroad], so it’s going to keep consumers on edge even if they’ve succeeded in containing it within China,” he said.