BEIJING: It appears Chinese consumers are going for gold in the national spending stakes. Retail sales growth soared by a record-breaking 23.3% last month as the nation prepared to host the current Olympic Games.

The figures surprised analysts, who had been expecting a slight slowdown in growth to 22.2%, after June's previous 23% high.

China's race to spend is fuelled by rising incomes and wages. Consumer inflation was 6.3% in the year to July, down from 7.1% in June.

Household spending is encouraged by the government as it tries to steer the country's economy away from its current reliance on exports and related investments.

However, despite the rapid rise in living standards across the nation, many families still save around 30% of their incomes to prepare for rainy days that might include job losses or payment for health care and education.

Comments economist Zhao Qingming, from China Construction Bank in Beijing: "The potential for China's domestic consumption is huge, but it will be a long-term process for China to wean its economy off exports and investment."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff