Visitors walk through a tunnel decorated with lanterns at a light show to celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, in Xian, Shaanxi, China February 1, 2019. Picture taken February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC17003FB540

Chinese consumption over the the Lunar New Year holiday, traditionally one of the main drivers for spending slowed this year as pressure on the economy grows.

The annual festival typically kicks off the new year with a spree of spending on travel, shopping, and gifts that gives a boost to the nation’s finances but this year people in China spent 1.01 trillion yuan (US$149 billion) over the the week-long holiday, the slowest increase since at least 2011.

The slowdown in spending underscores a weakness in Chinese consumption, which saw last year’s rise as the lowest since 2002. The trade war with the U.S. and a crackdown on debt have fed into lower growth all undercutting demand, with auto purchases falling for the first time in almost three decades in 2018.

Spending at tourist venues rose 8.2 percent to 513.9 billion yuan, the state broadcaster CCTV said, citing data from the Ministry of Commerce, slower than the 12.6 percent rise last year. Domestic box office revenue was 1 percent higher than in 2018, according to a report in The Paper, which cited statistics from a cinema ticketing service platform of Alibaba Pictures.

The week-long Lunar New Year falls on different dates in January or February each year. During the holiday, hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns or go overseas, visit relatives and dine out. This year’s holiday was Feb. 4-10, while it was Feb. 15-21 in 2018.


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