04/24/2024, 18.54
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Catering sector belies China's GDP growth, as 459,000 businesses end activities in first quarter

Lower consumer demand forces small restaurants as well as ambitious bakery brands to throw in the towel. Business closures jump 232 per cent over a year as post zero-COVID reopening saw rising prices and income crunch for many households.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, 459,000 catering businesses cancelled or suspended operations in the first quarter of this year, up 232 per cent over the same period last year.

Some 180,000 closed in March alone, compared to 140,000 in the entire first quarter last year, decidedly different from the rosy picture of China’s economy suggested a few days ago by a 5.3 per cent GDP growth for the same quarter, higher than the targets set for 2024.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) dedicated an in-depth analysis of catering businesses going bust; according to some local operators, China’s the consumer market has not recovered after the Zero-COVID policy ended.

This is due to “high rental costs, high labour costs, rising prices and decreased customer demand," a Wuhan restaurateur said summing up the picture. “Some catering businesses are doing very well, but not larger restaurants.”

Earlier this year, some bakery brands considered to be on the rise, such as Hutou, were forced to throw in the towel.

Ms Yao, a resident of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, told RFA that many of her friends who used to run restaurants have closed and are struggling to make ends meet.

"Residents have no money left; it's difficult to run any business,” she lamented.

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