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Chinese Retailers Hope for a Warmer Welcome to the Year of the Horse

A worker puts the final touches to a model horse at a temple fair in Beijing
A worker puts the final touches to a model horse at a temple fair in BeijingPhotograph by AFP via Getty Images

As millions of Chinese factory workers and big city residents prepare to visit relatives in other parts of the country, they need to stock up on gifts for the family. So this time of year is an especially busy season for Chinese retailers.

But last year a new austerity drive promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping put a damper on the festivities. As part of this campaign to fight corruption, China’s leadership discouraged conspicuous consumption and hurt New Year sales, with retail turnover during the weeklong festival rising at its slowest rate since the depths of the global financial crisis. Sales grew 15 percent, to 539 billion yuan ($90 billion), according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce.