NANJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese cities are encouraging residents to dine out and shop with measures such as handing out e-vouchers to boost consumption sectors hit hard by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Like many living in the eastern city of Nanjing, Wang Linlin was waked up by her alarm clock at midnight and with a few clicks on her cellphone, she was ready to meet her luck of the draw: getting a meal voucher worth 100 yuan (about 14.2 U.S. dollars).
"I've always been thinking about hanging out and having hotpot with my friends after the epidemic, so getting a voucher would be great," Wang said.
Nanjing has been giving out vouchers worth 318 million yuan to its residents since Sunday. People are invited to participate in lotteries for e-vouchers which can be used in restaurants, gymnasiums, bookshops as well as tourist spots, helping the service sector bounce back.
The voucher bonus has been well received as more than 1.6 million local citizens have registered for the lotteries as of Monday, according to the Nanjing Big Data Administration Bureau.
Besides Nanjing, many other regions have also been taking similar actions.
Macao gives out vouchers totaling 2.2 billion patacas (about 275 million U.S. dollars) to its residents. The city of Ningbo in east China's Zhejiang Province is issuing consumption vouchers worth 100 million yuan while the city of Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, is handing out vouchers worth 20 million yuan to stimulate spending on tourism and culture.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese customers have shied away from restaurants and shopping malls. China's retail sales of consumer goods, a major indicator of consumption growth, declined 20.5 percent year on year in the first two months of this year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
"People are more willing to dine out with the vouchers, which can boost confidence in the catering sector and finally get the economy back on track," said Shen Jiahua, chairman of a chain restaurant company in Nanjing.
After the coronavirus outbreak ends, people are eager to spend generously. According to a survey conducted by the Jiangsu consumers council, nearly 90 percent of the respondents expressed suppressed consumption desire.
Restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, gymnasiums and tourist spots are the top five destinations for consumers to unleash their spending spree after normal life resumes, the survey showed.
Local officials across China have been taking the lead in recent days in patronizing restaurants and shopping malls, hoping to use their appearances in public to persuade more residents to go outside.
In provinces such as Jiangsu, Anhui, and Jiangxi, government notices have urged officials to dine out and go shopping to help related businesses through the epidemic period.
"Government officials are using their actions to convey confidence and support work resumption and consumer spending," commented a Chinese netizen.