JD, its main local rival, saw revenues leap by nearly 58%.
Chinese are still spending heavily abroad.Their international tax-free shopping shot up 58% last year, according to a new report from Global Blue, a big operator of duty-free shops.
Overall, Chinese tourists spent 215 billion on outbound travel last year, a rise of 53% on the previous year.Ctrip, a big online travel firm partly owned by Baidu, a Chinese internet search giant, saw its revenues jump by nearly half last year, to 10.9 billion yuan.As with cars, screens and travel, so with consumption generally.All retail sales across the economy, adjusted for inflation, rose by 9.6% during the first quarter, compared with the same period a year ago.The services sector, which caters to the growing demands of the middle class, has been rising by 8% a year in real terms since 2012.Services made up 57% of economic output in the first quarter; electricity consumption in services rose by some 10%, but was as flat for industry.
Not every market is as bouncy as it once was.A cooling economy and an official anti-corruption drive have squeezed luxury goods, sales of which fell by 2% year on year in 2015, to 113 billion yuan.But some firms are doing well.Remy Cointreau, a premium liquor brand offering tamper-proof bottles on the mainland (near field communications tags tell your smartphone if the booze has been diluted), saw global revenues rise by nearly 10% last quarter and credited improving trends in greater China.According to Bernard Arnault, the boss of LVMH, a luxury goliath: Analysts underestimate the Chinese economy… the fundamentals are good. Household spending is still increasing.
The two Chinas
Can consumption remain resilient given the troubles of the country's state-dominated industrial economy, ranging from vast overcapacity to record levels of debt?One temporary source of comfort is the fact that the state sector may now itself be stabilising, thanks to a massive, debt-fuelled government stimulus.But greater reassurance comes from the fact that even a big shakeout in heavy industry would be unlikely to derail the Chinese consumer.By one estimate, if 30% of capacity is slashed across China's most bloated state industries, perhaps 3m workers will lose their jobs over the next three years.But thanks largely to the private sector, the country created 64m jobs between 2011 and 2015, with more than 13m emerging in the past year alone.