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China's Lunar New Year sales lose steam as economy slumps

Falling asset prices and layoffs crimp spending in major shopping season

SHANGHAI/DALIAN, China -- China's Lunar New Year holidays through Sunday saw single-digit consumption growth for the first time on record, as an economic slump dampened one of the year's biggest shopping seasons.

Sales in the retail and food-and-drink industries grew 8.5% to 1.005 trillion yuan ($149 billion) over the weeklong holiday, the Ministry of Commerce said Sunday, down 1.7 percentage points from 2018 and the lowest growth rate in data going back to 2005 when such data was first collected.

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