Sporadic outbreaks and travel restrictions have affected spending during China’s week-long New Year’s holiday. Some analysts warn that this downward trend signals that the economy could suffer even more.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday that ended Feb. 6, Chinese consumers took 251 million domestic tourism trips. As a result, they contributed $45.4 billion in tourism revenue—26.1% and 43.7% less than the respective totals during the holiday in 2019 and 2% and 3.9% below the holiday last year. According to online travel agency Qunar.com, nearly 80% of domestic travel is short trips within provinces and cities.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the number of people taking the significant ways of transportation increased by 47.6% year-on-year from Jan. 17 to 31. That is the peak of the “Spring Festival” when migrant workers returned to their hometowns, but it was still 64.6% lower than in 2019.
As a major consumption indicator, the movie box office also declined year by year. Data released by the National Film Bureau on Feb. 7 showed that between Jan. 31, New Year’s Eve, and Feb. 6, movie ticket sales were $950 million, down from $1.23 billion in 2021. The audience was 114 million, down about 46.3 million year-over-year and nearly 30% from 2021. The leading cause was higher ticket prices and sporadic COVID outbreaks that temporarily forced some regions to close their theaters.
“Despite a nearly 48% increase in the number of people returning to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday compared with last year, there was a contraction in movie box office sales and tourism revenues. Perhaps due to the worsening economy—suggesting that this did not result in materially higher consumption demand,” according to a Nomura report published on Monday, Feb. 2.