Chinese clothing sales rose 21.2% year-on-year in May, according to figures released by the country's National Bureau of Statistics today (12 June), but apparel and textile exports continue to fall.

According to government figures, total retail sales rose 15.2% to CNY1,002.8bn (US%146.7bn) in May, compared with the same month last year - helped by a US$585bn spending package last year aimed at boosting domestic demand.

In contrast, textile and garment exports slipped 14.8% from May 2008 to US$12.3bn.

Exports were 1.5% lower than those recorded in April, the data showed as government measures to raise export tax rebates failed to offset a slowdown in demand from the US and EU.

Textile exports fell 16.3% year-on-year to US$4.90bn, while shipments of garments and accessories were down 13.7% to US$7.41bn.

In the first five months of the year, total retail sales rose 15% to CNY4,877.0bn compared with the same period last year.

But textile and garment exports fell 11.0% over the same January to May period, to US$55.9bn.

The Chinese government has increased VAT rebates on garments six times since last summer, most recently lifting them to 15%.

The move is aimed at helping exporters hit by the slump in global demand.