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China’s GDP Grows 18.3% in Q1, March Retail Sales Up 34.2%

Chinese shoppers admiring a window display. Shutterstock

As expected, China’s economy surged 18.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021, versus a year ago, when the country was largely shut down for a significant period to manage the spread of its worst Covid-19 outbreak, according to data released today by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

This represents a 0.6 percent slowdown compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. China’s first quarter is traditionally a time of lower economic production, due to an extended break for Chinese New Year, which this year fell in February.

Retail sales grew by 34.2 percent in March, year-on-year. This represents a slight improvement from the 33.8 percent increase for January and February.

Major international brands reporting their quarterly earnings this week reflect China’s increased appetite for consumption in recent months. At LVMH, revenue growth of 32 percent compared to the same period in 2020 was led by China’s “strong rebound”, while at L’Oréal Group, a 23.8 percent growth in its Asia-Pacific business was also bolstered by mainland China.

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