The Sales Managers Index: China

The First Data on Economic Activity Levels in China - Every Month

Released: 25 September 2020

September Sales Managers Index Shows Increasing Signs of Resurgent Growth


Confidence in the future

Chinese Sales Managers have been growing increasingly confident about the future for some months. The Business Confidence Index fell back a little in September, but remains well over the 50 "no growth" level.

The Confidence question of the monthly Sales Managers Survey is an important one as it does not ask views on confidence levels in relation to previous months, but only about how confident panelists are about the future. So positive readings such as those taken in September are genuine expressions of confidence, rather than comparisons with the poor conditions seen earlier in the year with Covid-19 locking down economic activity.

 China: Business Confidence Index

The Business Confidence Index measures the level of optimism/pessimism among sales for future conditions.

There is little doubt that sales managers are in general increasingly optimistic. Given the ability of sales executives to sense changes in the economic climate earlier than others, this is a very positive signal that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis is now receding rapidly in China.


Sales Growth

Answers to the question relating to panelists sales, are asked specifically in relation to sales in the current month in relation to sales in the previous month.

"Are your sales higher / the same / lower than last month".

Respondents have become increasingly positive over the past few months, as would be expected as the impact of Covid-19 gradually recedes. September is the fifth successive month of Index figures over 50, with each month higher than the previous one.  The September Index reading is now well over the 50 "zero growth" level and at an 11 month high, reflecting the fact that an increasing number of panelists are seeing modest growth emerging from the wreckage of the months most affected by the closedown. However indications of significant real growth (as opposed to relative growth compared with the previous months) are still relatively few, suggesting that renewed growth is not evident in all sectors of economic activity.



The Jobs Index question asks whether staffing levels are higher or lower than in the same period a year earlier.

Overall the balance of replies shows considerable improvement, and the Staffing Levels Index is now at an 8 month high, with Manufacturing employment levels starting to approach the levels seen a year ago. However employment in the Services sectors still lags some way behind levels seen prior to the Covid-19 close down.



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