China's retail sales in the first half year rose 15 percent to 5.87 trillion yuan (859.60 billion U.S. dollars) from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Thursday.
The growth rate was 3.7 percentage points higher than the same period last year.
Retail sales in June also rose 15 percent from May, said the NBS spokesman Li Xiaochao.
Real (inflation-adjusted) retail sales growth was recorded at 16.6 percent in the first half year.
Urban sales of consumer goods expanded 14.4 percent to 3.98 trillion yuan, while sales in rural areas increased 16.4 percent to 1.89 trillion yuan.
"There were two highlights in promoting domestic demand: commercial apartments sales rose by 31.7 percent in the first half year from the same period last year; automobile sales expanded by 17.7 percent year on year," Li said.
Consumption contributed 53.4 percent to economic growth and 3.8 percentage points to GDP growth in the first half year, Li said.
Per capita urban income rose 9.8 percent in the first half year to 8,856 yuan. The figure for rural residents was 8.1 percent up to 2,733 yuan. In real terms, the growth rate was 11.2 percent for urban residents and 8.1 percent for rural residents.
"China has taken three kinds of policies to boost consumption, including improving residents' income, encouraging and empowering rural residents to spend, boosting large and popular items consumption such as automobiles and apartments," said Sun Xuegong, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission.
"The policies have worked well and played a key role in promoting China's consumption in the first half year," Sun said.
China should work further to provide more jobs, expand middle class and complete social security system to boost consumption, Sun said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2009)