BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- A robust consumer market at the beginning of the year will provide a firm footing for stable economic growth in the first quarter, the Ministry of Commerce has said.
The MOC said in a statement that new growth points on the consumer market continued strong momentum, citing vigorous service consumption and steadily-growing online sales.
Catering and travel spending and box office revenues reported stellar increases thanks to the week-long Spring Festival holiday.
Restaurants across the country posted combined incomes of 725.1 billion yuan (around 108 billion U.S. dollars) in the first two months, up 9.7 percent year on year. Box office revenues during the holiday hit a record high of 5.84 billion yuan.
Online goods sales jumped 19.5 percent from a year ago to surpass a trillion yuan during January and February, accounting for 16.5 percent of the country's total retail sales.
While consumption gained momentum, consumer inflation remained tame, the MOC said, citing a 1.6-percent increase in consumer prices in the first two months, narrowing by 0.6 percentage points from a year ago.
Farm produce prices in 36 major cities retreated 1.8 percent year-on-year in February, ending an eight-month rising streak.