Clampdown on luxuries cuts sales by up to 70%

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supplies of luxury goods, including shark fin, abalone and expensive alcohol, have been squeezed by new Chinese leader Xi Jingping’s clampdown on lavish lifestyles.

The Ministry of Commerce said yesterday that business for high-end caterers in Beijing has plunged 35 per cent since Mr Xi’s order two months ago.

Mr Xi, who took power in November as Communist Party general secretary, ordered an end to state banquets and other pomp that has alienated a public struggling with high living costs.

During last week’s Chinese New Year holiday, sales of shark fin soup at Beijing hotels was down 70 per cent year on year, the ministry said. Sales of abalone and bird’s nest soup fell 40 per cent. Makers of expensive alcohol have seen sales weaken, and some have cut prices by up to 30 per cent.

At a December meeting of the Politburo, Mr Xi ordered that arrangements for leaders’ visits and the trappings of power be cut back. Under the orders, elaborate welcoming ceremonies are to be eliminated, traffic disruptions by official convoys avoided, and staid, often worthless reporting on the doings of the leadership dispensed with.

He later called for people to be more frugal following a “Clear the Plate” online campaign calling on restaurants to cut down food waste. His words sparked an anti-food waste campaign in state media and an order by the TV watchdog that all advertising promoting the giving luxury watches, rare stamps and gold coins – a practice often associated with corruption – be cut. Officials and state companies reportedly cancelled New Year banquets this year.

The anti-waste drive also extends to the People’s Liberation Army which this week ordered that leftovers be better used.