Online Retail Remains the Best Choice for Chinese Shoppers Despite Relaxed Covid-19 Restrictions

Most Chinese shoppers are still afraid to go out, believing brick-and-mortar retail outlets are not the safest place, although the government ended most Covid-related restrictions in early December

China retail Covid

Covid fears force 90% of consumers in China to avoid going out. Image:

A recent Oliver Wyman survey found that 90% of Chinese consumers still try to leave their apartments as rarely as possible, avoiding offline shopping and dining out. Only 8% of those surveyed felt comfortable about going out right now.

Moreover, almost 60% of respondents said they wouldn’t be comfortable going out in public for at least the next few months. The study covered 4,500 Chinese citizens aged 16+. The surveyed customers live in urban areas of various sizes.

Although increasingly stringent measures to control Covid-19 outbreaks were lifted in December after the wave of protests, infection rates started to surge in Beijing and other cities. Therefore, many high streets and shopping malls remained deserted in December. Retail outlets and venues in Beijing were modestly crowded this weekend, but not even close to the packed levels that had been typical for the main Chinese city before the pandemic.

Lack of customers is not the only problem for businesses. Labour shortage is another part of the issue, as employees take sick leaves and firms fail to maintain their service levels. Besides, 62% of stay-at-home customers prefer saving rather than spending money.

Nevertheless, an earlier study by Oliver Wyman found that all Chinese income and age groups are much more positive about 2023 and eager to spend more again next year. Namely, 61% of the respondents surveyed said they would increase their spending in 2023.


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Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.