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China's cash-strapped families forgo new appliances

Household debt hits $6tn and leaves industry with 48.6m unsold air conditioners

Crushing levels of household debt and a cooling real estate market are conspiring against appliance retailers, which are suffering either net losses or plummeting net profits.

GUANGZHOU -- Mounting household debt has caused Chinese consumers to refrain from buying home appliances, squeezing a domestic industry that has long relied on government subsidies to stay competitive.

Apart from March, appliances sales undershot year-earlier numbers every month between July 2018 and June this year, data from China Market Monitor shows. Sales fell 8% for the 12 months overall.

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