Hotels and cinemas in China reported an uptick in revenue on the weekend as consumers bought into another “Chinese Valentine’s Day” phenomenon. The unofficial celebration is marked each year on May 20 , which in Mandarin sounds similar to “I love you”. This year the day fell on a Saturday, offering businesses even more lucrative opportunities to capitalise on the post-pandemic recovery and a strong willingness among consumers to spend. Despite the boost, observers still have doubts that consumption – which contributed 32.8 per cent to economic growth last year, down from 58.3 per cent in 2021 – can rally to help the economy to meet this year’s gross domestic product target of around 5 per cent. Online travel platforms reported a surge in hotel bookings across the country. As of Friday, advance hotel bookings for “520” this year increased fourfold compared with the same time in 2019, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday. Hotels offered Valentine’s Day-themed rooms, with packages that included wine and roses. Market research firm iiMedia Research said that around one in five consumers it surveyed said they would spend May 20 in a hotel or guest house. The consumers in this category were less concerned about price and more interested in comfort, appearance and quality of service, the research firm said. There was also a strong recovery at cinemas. Meow money, more travel: what purchases are Chinese prioritising this year? By Saturday evening, nationwide box office sales surpassed 300 million yuan (US$42.7 million), more than five times the spending last year. The highest grossing movie on Saturday was Fast X , the tenth film in the American Fast & Furious franchise, according to Chinese movie ticketing app Maoyan. iiMedia Research also said beauty products and jewellery were among the most sought-after gifts for the day. The company said over 90 per cent of people it surveyed said they were willing to spend on the day regardless of their relationship status. It said that despite instability in the gold price, jewellery purchases were rising and still among the top choices for couples, with many choosing the day to express their love, propose or get married. Singles were also prepared to spend money on themselves or family and friends, iiMedia said. Perfume sales were up 186 per cent and lipstick by 143 per cent from the same period last year on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, according to Ebrun, an e-commerce information and research platform. The week before May 20, orders on Douyin rose 1.4 times compared with the previous year, the platform said. Many marriage registry offices were also opening on Saturday to cope with an expected influx of applicants, according to media reports. People tend to be cautious in spending before their household balance sheet is repaired Wang Yiming But Wang Yiming, a central bank adviser, told a forum in Beijing on Saturday that a lack of demand remained the biggest problem for China’s economic recovery. “People tend to be cautious in spending before their household balance sheet is repaired,” Wang said. April retail sales rose 18.4 per cent from a year earlier, thanks to the low comparison base, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Sales of consumer goods fell 8.8 per cent from March to 3.1 trillion yuan.