China is turning to shopping malls and convenience stores to better gauge spending in the world’s largest consumer market, the latest step toward upgrading its economic indicators.
The Ministry of Commerce said Thursday it will publish the data in the first month of each quarter to reflect activity in the prior three-month period. It didn’t release any specifics on the methodology such as the source or scope of the indicators, which are on a 0 to 100 scale, in which 50 is the dividing line between improving and deteriorating conditions.
"As China’s retail sales keep expanding, innovating and updating at a faster pace, shopping malls and convenience stores stand out as the most rapidly developing brick-and-mortar models," Sun Jiwen, a ministry spokesman, said at a briefing in Beijing.
The new readings show the government pushing ahead with efforts to track to consumption, which is increasingly replacing smokestack industries as the dominant economic driver. Consumption contributed 77.2% to economic expansion in the first quarter, up from 64.6% the prior year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
The ministry has contracted with the China Chain Store and Franchise Association, a Beijing-based industry group, to compile the index, Sun said.
Sun said the convenience store index indicated rapid expansion with a 72.2 reading for the last quarter, though he didn’t provide any historical comparisons. Cities such as Shenzhen, Taiyuan and Changsha showed the fastest growth in the small shops, he said.
The ministry didn’t release first quarter data for malls.