Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, China – the world’s second-biggest economy country, is still pushing forward with its ‘zero COVID’ policy. The strategy, aimed at eliminating and halting the spread of the virus, has not only taken a hefty toll on the country’s economy but also on residents’ livelihood. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that China’s growth rate was the weakest in more than two years. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s gross domestic product increased by 0.4% in the second quarter of this year, which was the poorest performance since the first quarter of 2020, when the pandemic erupted.

The government’s strict anti-epidemic measures have made it increasingly difficult for many businesses to survive. Some opted to shut down their businesses. China’s “Guyu Data” report on July 21 shows Shanghai shopping malls’ vacancy rate reached 9.8 %. 

Meanwhile, according to the “Questionnaire Survey Report on Urban Savers in the Second Quarter of 2022” published by the People’s Bank of China, 58.3% of the population are inclined to save their money rather than spend it.

Winshang, a Chinese website focusing on the commercial real estate industry, shows that the average daily passenger flow of China’s shopping malls from January to April was 12,861, down 19% from last year.

According to the report, it is a warning sign if the vacancy rate rises to 6%.

Data for the vacancy rate in 2022 has not yet been released. However, the vacancy rates of malls in Shanghai and Chengdu are 9.8% and 8.7%, respectively. This rate reaches as high as 14.1% in Guangzhou.

Many store closures in China’s major cities were also reported during the first quarter of 2022. Take Shenzhen as an example; the ratio of open to closed stores is 0.95, meaning that the closed stores are slightly more open than the open ones.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the total retail sales of consumer products in China in April of this year were 2,948.3 billion yuan (or about $436 billion), down 11.1% from the same month last year.

China’s “Questionnaire Survey Report on Urban Savers in the Second Quarter of 2022” also shows that only 23.8% of Chinese residents are likely to consume, but 58.3% are inclined to save money.

According to research by Guotai Junan Securities, respondents’ willingness to spend money was also impacted by a sharp decline in their income during the epidemic. Sixty percent of those surveyed experienced a sharp decline in their revenue.

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