Chinese consumers spent 1.2 trillion yuan ($183 billion) abroad last year, with the goods they bought ranging from luxuries to daily necessities, according to a luxury-market consultancy.
More than 60 percent of the consumers bought luxury products — including handbags, cosmetics and mobile gadgets — spending $116.8 billion on such goods, the Beijing-based Fortune Character Group said.
This accounted for 46 percent of global luxury sales, the company added.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Chinese consumption power overseas grew on average by 27.8 percent annually between 2005 and last year, doubling such power in the domestic market.
Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy’s International Tourism Development Institute, said, “Convenient traveling conditions, the appreciation of the yuan and attractive foreign retail and tourist markets pushed Chinese to buy more foreign products in both physical stores and online shops.”
Government figures show that more than 120 million Chinese tourists went abroad last year and their spending comprised at least 12 percent of global consumption.
In comparison, slowed domestic consumption remains a concern for the central government.
The country’s consumer market was generally steady but fluctuated slightly, seeing low spending levels at the start of last year before a rebound toward the end.
Retail sales of consumer goods last year reached 30.1 trillion yuan, a year-on-year rise of 10.7 percent and 0.2 percentage points higher than in the first three quarters, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Li Jian, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a ministry think tank, said that if one-third of current overseas consumption had flown back into the domestic market, China’s retail sales of consumer goods would have risen by at least 1 percentage point.
However, prices of imported goods remain high in comparison with overseas markets.
Research by the China Chamber of International Commerce on the development of the country’s consumer market last year found that the prices of 37 high-end consumer goods were between 40 percent and 68 percent higher than for the same products in the United States, France and Germany.
The goods included watches, electronic products, wine, clothing, suitcases and handbags.