After three decades of torrid growth, China is encountering an unfamiliar problem with its newly struggling economy: a huge buildup of unsold goods that is cluttering shop floors, clogging car dealerships and filling factory warehouses.
…The severity of China’s inventory overhang has been carefully masked by the blocking or adjusting of economic data by the Chinese government — all part of an effort to prop up confidence in the economy among business managers and investors.
…Business owners who manufacture or distribute products as varied as dehumidifiers, plastic tubing for ventilation systems, solar panels, bedsheets and steel beams for false ceilings said that sales had fallen over the last year and showed little sign of recovering.
“Sales are down 50 percent from last year, and inventory is piled high,” said To Liangjian, the owner of a wholesale company distributing picture frames and cups, as he paused while playing online poker in his deserted storefront here in southeastern China.
Wu Weiqing, the manager of a faucet and sink wholesaler, said that his sales had dropped 30 percent in the last year and he has piled up extra merchandise. Yet the factory supplying him is still cranking out shiny kitchen fixtures at a fast pace.
…The Chinese industry’s problems show every sign of growing worse, not better. So many auto factories have opened in China in the last two years that the industry is operating at only about 65 percent of full capacity — far below the 80 percent usually needed for profitability.
Yet so many new factories are being built that, according to the Chinese government’s National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s auto manufacturing capacity is on track to increase again in the next three years by an amount equal to all the auto factories in Japan, or nearly all the auto factories in the United States.
…“Inventory used to flow in and out,” said Mr. Wu, the faucet and sink sales manager. “Now, it just sits there, and there’s more of it.”
Here is more.