Most Chinese shoppers are very cautious when going out, the survey found

Shoppers enter a newly opened Sam’s Club in Beijing in December. 23, 2022, the chain’s fourth store in the Chinese capital.

Zhao Jun | China News Service | Getty Images

BEIJING – Most Chinese still don’t want to leave their apartments, despite an easing of Covid-related restrictions, an Oliver Wyman survey found.

More than 90 percent of consumers surveyed over the weekend said they are avoiding going out, the consultancy said. Almost 60% of respondents said they would not be comfortable going out in public for at least the next few months.

After months of increasingly strict measures to control beaches from Covid-19, mainland China suddenly ended most restrictions in early December. Meanwhile, infections began to rise in Beijing and later in other cities, such as Shanghai. Visits to fever clinics soared, straining an already stretched public health system.

“We noticed that many high streets and shopping centers were deserted in December,” Kenneth Chow, director, Oliver Wyman, said in an email this week.

“Due to the increase in infection, many companies we spoke to expressed concerns about labor shortages, as a significant proportion of their staff have been ill and some are struggling to maintain the their level of service,” Chow said.

Anecdotally, while many more people went out to Beijing’s malls and attractions over the weekend, not all stores had yet reopened. Venues were modestly crowded, but not at the packed levels that had been typical of the city of 22 million before the pandemic.

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Only 8% of consumers surveyed felt comfortable going out right now, Oliver Wyman said.

The study covered 4,500 Chinese over the age of 16, from all sizes of cities, and was weighted to be representative of China’s urban population.

Local interest in saving rather than spending has risen to record highs this year, according to surveys conducted over the past two decades by the People’s Bank of China.

Nearly 62 percent of respondents said they preferred to save rather than spend or invest, according to fourth-quarter results released Tuesday. This is an increase from 58% at the beginning of the year.

People who planned to spend more were more likely to do so on health and education, the survey found.

General caution when traveling

And despite data showing increased interest in travel, Oliver Wyman’s survey indicated that most Chinese remain cautious.

Less than a fifth of respondents said they planned to travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year at the end of January, the consultancy said, noting that Chinese were more interested in traveling if they were wealthier.

However, the survey was conducted before China announced on Monday that from January. 8, travelers should no longer be quarantined upon arrival on the mainland.

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