China software, retail sectors decimated

Coronavirus lockdown lands double-digit blow to revenue in key consumer markets, but gaming surges as locked down population turns to digital, mobile fun to relieve boredom

by Nadeem Xu
China’s software, retail industries decimated
Mobile gaming was one of the bright spots in China’s consumer markets in Q1.

(ATF) China’s software industry has been wounded by the coronavirus outbreak, with sector-wide profit falling 13% in the first quarter.

The decline was mirrored by the most recent retail data, which shows household appliance sales also plummeted in double-digit percentages.

Revenue in China's software industry was 1.4 trillion yuan ($200 billion) in the three months through March, down 6.2% from a year earlier. That reduced net profit to 166.7bn yuan, down 13.1%, according to an announcement Monday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Consumption in the world’s second-largest economy slid as millions of citizens were put under strict lockdown for two months to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The hit to the economy was registered a 16.8% shrinkage of Q1 GDP, the first  contraction in generations.

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Overall sales of household appliances was 120.4bn yuan, down 35.8%, according to a report Monday by the China Electronics and Information Industry Development Research Institute.

The report showed that offline appliance sales dropped to 57.8bn yuan, while online sales reached 62.6 billion yuan, the first time that e-commerce sales had outweighed those from physical channels.

One consumer bright spot during the coronavirus has been the growth of online gaming, as millions of people shuttered in their homes turned to digital entertainment.

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China's games market saw revenue exceed 73.2bn yuan in the first quarter, surging more than 25% quarter-on-quarter, an industry report said.

The solid growth came after the unprecedented outbreak forced millions of people to stay at home, according to a report jointly released by the Game Publishing Committee of China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association and global market research firm International Data Corporation.

The report noted that the mobile game market saw a visible surge, with the revenue swelling 46.3% year-on-year to 55.37bn yuan.

E-sports games also reported robust growth, with the number of users expanding to 482 million, the report added.