China’s gross domestic product jumped year-on-year at an unprecedented rate of 18.3 percent in the first quarter of 2021. It had declined by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, due to the coronavirus outbreak. On a sequential basis, the country’s GDP moved up by 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2020, when it was up by a revised rate of 3.2 percent as compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
Retail sales rose by 33.8 percent in January and February and by 34.2 percent in March. Pent-up demand for luxury goods was a driver for the growth in Chinese consumption, partly because of travel restrictions in Europe, but the sports market showed major improvements as well: LVMH has just reported a currency-neutral increase of 86 percent in Asia, excluding Japan, for the first quarter. Adidas still has to report its figures for the first quarter, but Nike grew in China by 42 percent in its latest quarter, ended Feb. 28. Anta Sports Products has just indicated that its retail sales rose in the first quarter by between 40 and 120 percent, depending on the brand.
Industrial production went up by 35.1 percent year-on-year in China in January and February, and by 14.1 percent in March. According to data from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the country’s production of apparel reached 3.4 billion pieces in the first two months of this year, representing a 38.4 percent increase as compared to the same period a year earlier. Over these two months, the cumulative operating revenues for 12,438 major garment bmanufacturing firms surveyed by the Ministry amounted to 179.2 billion yuan renmimbi (€22.9bn-$27.4bn), up by 21.4 percent from the corresonding period in 2020.
Online retail sales of clothing jumped by 44.3 percent. Meanwhile, China’s exports of garments and related accessories rose by 50 percent. In spite these positive performances, the Ministry noted that China’s apparel industry has yet to return to pre-pandemic output and revenue levels. We could not find similar figures for footwear production, consumption or exports.