Retail sales and the property market in China are being hammered by draconian Covid restrictions and the country’s nascent recovery is being choked off. The Telegraph has more.
Navigating the maze-like showroom that is an Ikea store has always been notoriously difficult. But last weekend, hundreds of shoppers in Shanghai found themselves barging their way past security guards just to get out of the doors at the Xuhui district outlet.
On social media it looked like a closing-down sale or Black Friday scrum. But these shoppers weren’t in search of a bargain Billy bookcase. They were simply trying to leave the store.
China’s draconian approach to tackling Covid-19 has previously left some shoppers trading their handbags for sleeping bags. In Shanghai, those unfortunate enough to fail in the escape from Ikea were trapped for hours behind the locked exit as authorities ordered swab tests for all customers, all because one shopper was in close contact with someone with the virus.
They’re not alone. Horror stories have emerged of people being locked in Uniqlo for 48 hours or being trapped in Disneyland as authorities mass-tested tens of thousands in the pursuit of Covid-zero. “I never thought that the longest queue in Disneyland would be for a nucleic acid test,” one disgruntled theme park-goer said last year on social media.
Official figures on Monday provided further evidence that the strict Covid policies are choking off an already nascent recovery. Retail sales have slowed, factory production is stuttering and even investment is falling short of expectations. The talk now is not whether the country will miss an implicit growth target of 5.5pc this year, but by how much.
Shanghai, China’s most populous urban area, has endured some of the strictest and prolonged lockdowns in the world under a strategy set by the country’s premier Xi Jinping. The city of 20 million people has ordered flash lockdowns of areas where positive cases or their close contacts have been detected.