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China's consumers tighten their belts

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 01:37

Forget luxury bags and high-end wine, Chinese consumers are now pinching pennies even when it comes to things like toothpaste and instant noodles. Eve Johnson reports

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China's economic slowdown is eating into the checkout line... It's no longer just luxury handbags and high-end wines taking a hit.... Now even everyday items like toothpaste, instant noodles and cheap clothing are gathering dust on shelves Sales growth of fast-moving consumer goods is sitting at around two percent - down from nine percent just a few years ago. Correspondent Adam Jourdan explains how this has happened. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS BEIJING CORRESPONDENT, ADAM JOURDAN, SAYING: "We saw China post its weakest growth in 25 years last year, we've seen market turbulence, we've seen exports slumping, and all these things come together to make consumers slightly more anxious, you know, concerned and careful about what they spend." There have been a few rays of sunshine in the storm. People are still splashing out on occasional treats like a Starbucks latte, or pair of Adidas trainers. But for just about everything else, Chinese shoppers are going downmarket.... ...meaning big multinationals like Proctor & Gamble and Mead Johnson are hurting. It's also bad news for Beijing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF G10 FX STRATEGY, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "Certainly if we are going to see a prolonged, protracted unwind in consumer spending that would be potentially worrisome for the Chinese economy and you're absolutely correct that we are focusing upon this desire from the Chinese authorities to try and reorientate the economy away from that low cost manufacturing export backdrop into one which has a greater component of consumer expenditure. So I think there is a concern here." A slow start to 2016 wasn't part of Beijing's plan. Consumers were supposed to be the saviours of the economy this year. But data shows that so far China's economic shopping bag is looking more half-empty than half-full.

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China's consumers tighten their belts

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 01:37