Much depends now on whether consumers regain a willingness to spend amid nervousness that the virus can stage a comeback as controls are relaxed. Evidence from the epicenter of the virus, Wuhan, suggests progress will be slow.
While factories around Wuhan are working around the clock to get back up to speed, the recovery of consumer-focused businesses won’t be straightforward. People are cautiously taking to the streets again, but they remain subject to curbs on their movements aimed at keeping the virus at bay.
The nation’s per capita disposable income declined by 3.9% in real terms in the first quarter from a year ago, the first contraction since the data was available in 2014.
Consumer caution “continues to restrain demand, and thus activity more broadly,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asia economic research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. “This is reminder also for other economies of the arduous path to full recovery even after full lockdowns are removed. All this points to the need for a more determined policy push on both the monetary and fiscal fronts to ‘shock the system’ and get activity back up to its earlier vitality.”
Personal consumption is going to take a hit because if Chinese consumers have learned anything from the six-week lockdown it is they are on their own when to comes to survival. Western countries are boosting the provision of cash to citizens to help them make it through the loss of income phase. Those kinds of support do not exist in China and therefore the key lesson is to boost savings.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top