Retail sales in China expanded at a softer 9.5% during the first two months of 2017, undershooting a median forecast of 10.5% compiled by Bloomberg as car sales didn’t match the strong surge in the same period last year.

Online shopping remains a shining bright spot in China’s retail report, with growth exceeding 30%.

Excluding car sales, the country’s retailing growth was little changed, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Automobile sales totaled 586.5 billion yuan in the two months, down 1% from a year ago.

The combined January and February report portrays a strong marketplace underpinned by demand for telecommunications, culture-related goods such as films and books, as well as outside dining.

The restaurant segment maintained last December’s 10.6% growth into the start of 2017, while sales of food items and non-alcoholic beverage products edged higher to 9.7% and 11.3%, from 8.6% and 8.8%, respectively.

Sales of smartphones and other telecommunication items grew 10.7% year-on-year to 65.6 billion yuan, from December’s 8% growth.

Overall sales of consumer goods rose 10.4% during 2016, after a strong 10.9% spurt in December powered by a 14.4% boost in car sales.

The dynamic and fast-evolving online shopping frenzy continued with growth of 31.9% in the two months, following the 26.2% surge in 2016.

Online sales totaled 858 billion yuan during the two months, propelling growth for China’s e-commerce giants.

Online sales as a percentage of overall retailing in China stood at 11.1% in the January-February period, up from last year’s 9.5%.

Taking out fluctuations in prices, retail sales in the two months grew 8.2%, or less than December’s 9.2%.

Source: Asia Times