According to the statistics released by the Ministry of Commerce on July 31, 2008, in the first half of 2008, the combined retail sales of consumer goods in China's rural areas reached 1.622 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 20%.
The growth rate in rural areas, although 2.1 percentage points lower than the growth rate of urban areas, was 5.7 percentage points higher than that of the same period last year, which indicated greater spending confidence among rural dwellers with their increasing income.
In the first half of 2008, China's social and economic development was greatly challenged by the snowstorm in the southern areas at the beginning of the year and the May 12 earthquake. The agricultural production and the distribution facilities in the rural areas of China faced significant damages. However, the commerce departments at all levels and the distribution companies took various measures to recover the goods supplies in the disaster areas, enhance the consumption strength of the rural areas, and stabilize the market.
Statistics show that the prices of agricultural products kept rising and the market demand was increasing. In the first half of 2008, the wholesale prices of agricultural products increased by 22.9% compared with the same period last year and the growth rate was 14.1 percentage points higher.