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China’s service sector bounces back as COVID-19 epidemic wanes

/ 01:45 PM June 11, 2020

People purchase goods at a night fair in east China’s Shanghai, June 6, 2020. Xinhua via China Daily/Asia News Network

BEIJING — As the COVID-19 epidemic has waned in China, few new cases and more spending-stimulating policies have encouraged more consumers to visit shops and restaurants.

Chinese health authority said Tuesday that no new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported on the mainland Monday. Beijing cleared all its domestically transmitted cases as the last patient was cured and discharged from hospital on Monday.

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“It greatly boosted our confidence to go out,” said Shi Ying, a 34-year-old Beijing resident. She said she would dine out with friends using coupons given out on Saturday after having meals at home for months.

Beijing launched a consumer event and offered coupons worth 12.2 billion yuan (about $1.7 billion) on Saturday to spur consumption. The event will run through the National Day holiday in October, with over 400 activities covering areas including catering, retail, culture, tourism, education and sports.

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The first batch of coupons are available at e-commerce giant JD.com. They can be used at participating restaurants and retailers in Beijing as well as for snapping up smart products online.

Shi said she will use the coupons to buy an air conditioner and a TV set for her apartment.

Shanghai kicked off a night festival on Saturday to boost the city’s night economy. A number of bars, museums, bookstores and shopping malls joined the festival with extended business hours and activities like night tours, shopping, dining, reading and live shows.

Bai Qingping, who runs a restaurant in Beijing, has been expanding his storefront to open space outside as more customers seek midnight snacks such as kebabs, crayfish and boiled peanuts these days.

“It is a completely different picture from months ago and there are even queues at peak hours,” he added.

“Going out to shop and eat is only the first step and our family is planning a trip to Tibet for the upcoming holiday,” Shi said, calling it “revenge spending” after being mostly cooped up at home for weeks during the epidemic outbreak.

The Potala Palace in southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region reopened to the public on Wednesday after being closed for more than four months due to the epidemic. Guizhou, a Chinese province known for its landscape resorts and ethnic culture, will offer coupons worth 15 million yuan to boost consumption in the cultural and tourism sectors.

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Driven by improving consumer sentiment and stimulation policies, China’s service sector is gradually getting back on its feet.

The purchasing managers’ index in the service sector saw steady recovery in May. Among the 21 service sectors surveyed, 15 saw expansion in their business activities. The transport, accommodation and catering sectors all increased from April. Xinhua

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