China's young generation gets thrifty in gloomy economy

Sun Jan 4, 2009 8:34pm EST
 
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By Michael Wei

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's office workers are tightening their belts, cutting back spending on everything from clothes to fast food, despite government efforts to boost consumption to stave off the worst effects of a global recession.

Websites and blogs popular among young Chinese professionals are extolling the virtues of frugality as the global financial crisis bites China's economy.

Wang Hao, a 24-year-old Beijing office worker, launched his campaign in June to curb weekly living expenses to 100 yuan ($14.60). So far, he says, he has 55,000 participants.

"The financial crisis has apparently given a lesson on spending to young people in China, including me," said Wang, who posted his campaign on a popular forum and on his blog blog.soufun.com/whblog. The blog has had 178,000 hits.

China has enjoyed phenomenal economic growth for years, giving a huge boost to its domestic consumption. Young consumers, mostly in their late twenties and early thirties, would spend as much as they earned, if not more, on designer clothes, electronics, entertainment and a wide variety of consumer goods.

Now, at least, some are becoming thrifty.

Besides Wang's cost-cutting crusade, another website is running a similar "100-yuan for a week" campaign, and still other Internet forums and websites offer budget tips, including recipes for meals that cost under 10 yuan ($1.46).

One website offers "Ten Mottos for Financial Winter" with a list that includes avoid quitting your job, starting a business, buying a car and having a baby.   Continued...

 
<p>A visitor walks past Chinese security guards as she walks into a hall for the Top Essence luxury goods show in Beijing, in this November 22, 2008 file photo. China's office workers are tightening their belt, cutting back spending on everything from clothes to fast food, despite efforts by the government to boost domestic consumption to stave off the worst effects of the global recession. Picture taken November 22, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files</p>