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Chinese holiday retail sales jump 15%: gov't

BEIJING--China on Saturday said retail sales jumped nearly 15 percent on-year during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers splurged on jewelry, clothes and food.

Lunar New Year marks the biggest festival of the year in China as hundreds of millions of people journey across the country to celebrate the season with their families and consumer spending typically soars during the period.

China's commerce ministry said sales during the holiday period — which ran from Feb. 9-15 — rose 14.7 percent compared with last year to 539 billion yuan (US$86.5 billion).

The pace of growth, however, did not match up to last year when sales increased 16.2 percent compared to 2011.

This year's sales of jewelry, food and beverages rose 38.1 percent, 9.8 percent and 11.2 percent respectively, while sales of clothes increased 6.3 percent, the commerce ministry said.

“Across the country, products were abundant, supplies were sufficient and sales lively,” the ministry said.

The results come as China's economy has been showing renewed vigor, with GDP growth accelerating in the final three months of last year to 7.9 percent, snapping seven straight quarters of weakening expansion.

In January, China's trade surplus gained 7.7 percent year-on-year to US$29.2 billion, according to official data, beating analyst expectations. Inflation in January, meanwhile, slowed to 2 percent from 2.5 percent in December.

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