Young Chinese Cutting Spending as Economy Falling

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Doris Fu envisioned a different future for herself and her family. She envisioned buying a new car and a bigger apartment, eating out at nice restaurants on the weekends, and traveling there tropical islands.

But today, the 39-year-old marketing specialist from Shanghai is saving as much money as she can.

Fu and many other Chinese in their 20s and 30s are concerned about China’s pandemic lockdowns, high unemployment rates among young people and a flagging real estate market. As a result, young Chinese citizens are focused on saving instead of spending.

This thrifty Lifestyle became more popular through social media. Influencers on social media share their savings tips and tricks.

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However, this surge in affordable housing may hurt the world’s second largest economy. consumer Spending accounts for more than half of China’s gross domestic product, right? GDP.

Benjamin Cavender is Director of the China Market Research Group. He said: “We’ve been mapping consumer behavior here for 16 years and in all that time this has been the most worrying thing I’ve seen from young consumers.”

Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds is nearly 19 percent, according to government data. Some young people have suffered wage cuts. The average salary in 38 major Chinese cities fell 1 percent in the first three months of this year. This information comes from Zhilian Zhaopin online job search.

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As a result, some young people prefer to save money rather than spend it.

Fu, for example, is a big movie fan. She said she used to go to the cinema twice a month to see a movie. But, Fu said, “I’ve never gone inside one movie theater since the pandemic.”

According to the most recent People’s Bank of China (PBOC) study, nearly 60 percent of people in China are now likely to save more rather than spend or invest more. That number was 45 percent three years ago.

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That’s a problem for China’s economic policymakers, who have long relied on consumer spending to fuel economic growth.

A PBOC official said in July that as the pandemic subsides, willingness to invest and consume will “stabilize and get up.”

The PBOC did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters reporters. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce also did not respond to requests for comment.

People rest on stone barricades on a street after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China, 9 September 2022.  (REUTERS/Aly Song)

People rest on stone barricades on a street after the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Shanghai, China, 9 September 2022. (REUTERS/Aly Song)

’10 yuan dinner’

After years of rising spending fueled by rising wages, online shopping and easy credit, young people are changing their spending habits. The changes bring her closer to her parents’ generation, whose memories of tough economic times have led her to be more likely to save money.

But unlike their parents, young Chinese show their frugal lifestyle online.

A woman in her 20s in the eastern city of Hangzhou has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers by posting more than 100 videos on how to cook dinner for 10 yuan, about US$1.45. The woman goes by the name Lajiang on social media.

People on social media are discussing money-saving tips and even running contests. The ‘live of 1,600 yuan a month Challenge’ started among young people in Shanghai, one of the most expensive cities in China.

Yang Jun says she was deep in credit card debt before the pandemic. In 2019, she founded a group called the Low Consumption Research Institute on the networking site Douban. The group has gained more than 150,000 members. Yang says she is cutting back on expenses and selling some of her belongings on second-hand websites to make money. Yang also said she canceled her daily Starbucks coffee.

Fu, the marketing executive, said she changed her makeup brand from Givenchy to a Chinese brand called Florasis, which costs about 60 percent less.

Yang and Fu aren’t the only ones in China to abandon such goods. Both Starbucks and the French retailer that owns Givenchy reported sharp sales declines in China last quarter.

Fu says she has postponed plans to sell her two small apartments for a larger one near a better school system for her son. She has also given up her goal of buying a newer, nicer car.

“Why don’t I dare Update my house and my car, even if I have the money?” Fu said. “Everything is unknown.”

I’m Ashley Thompson. And I’m John Russell.

This was reported by the Reuters news agency. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English


words in this story

tropical – Note of, pertaining to, occurrence in or use in the tropics

focused – Note devoting attention and effort to a specific task or goal

thrifty – Note. Be careful about spending money or using things when you don’t need them

consumer – n. a person who buys goods and services

tips – n. useful information

GDP – n. the total value of goods and services produced by the people of a nation during a year, excluding the value of income earned abroad

movie theater – n. a cinema

stabilize – v. stop changing rapidly, gaining weight, deteriorating, etc.

Update – v. choosing to have or use something more modern, useful, etc.


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