Coupons to spur splurge

Top News | REUTERS 26 Mar 2020

Electronics stores, coffee chains and even local authorities in the mainland are slashing prices and handing out millions of discount coupons to revive an economy battered by virus-fighting restrictions.

Appliance dealers Gome and Suning plan to hand out coupons worth more than 620 million yuan (HK$677 million) and Alibaba's Alipay is giving away 10 million discount tokens for 10,000 retailers.

And retailing giant JD.com is from today giving out coupons worth 1.5 billion yuan for branded goods.

Even the railway authority was starting to cut ticket prices by as much as 45 percent from yesterday while local governments including Hebei, Zhejiang and Guangxi offered vouchers for tourist attractions, cinemas and shops.

"We've launched some discounted set offers to help consumers back into normal life," a Pacific Coffee chain spokeswoman said, referring to a 20 yuan coffee-and-bun deal.

The promotions reflect concern that the virus has depressed consumer appetites and could have a lingering impact even as the number of locally transmitted cases drops.

About 500 cinemas reopened over the weekend after being shut for two months.

Retail sales shrank by a fifth in January-February from the corresponding months last year when authorities began taking dramatic measures to curb the spread of the virus, shutting transport links and asking millions of people to stay home.

"Trade, tourism catering and other services not only help to prop up an economy's growth but embody a city's vitality," said Zhang Jinghua, party secretary of Nanjing, after the city gave away 318 million yuan in coupons. It is expected to boost consumption by nearly 10 million yuan over five days.

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