May 8 -- In the first four months of the year, 23.34 million home appliances were sold in rural areas in China, down 16.4 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.
Those goods had a total value of 61.68 billion yuan ($9.8 billlion), a number down by 6.7 percent year-on-year, the ministry reported.
The sale of home appliances in rural areas showed marked acceleration in April, when 5.35 million of the products were sold, up 135.1 percent year-on-year. They had a value of 14.32 billion yuan, up 141.9 percent from the same period a year ago.
Looked at by category, color TVs and refrigerators were the best-selling appliances. More than 10 billion yuan of the products were sold by the end of April, accounting for 56 percent of the value of all home appliances sold in the countryside.
The ministry said the government's stimulus policies helped to boost sales in April.
To spur China's domestic consumption, the government introduced a series of policies meant to encourage the purchase of home appliances. One important step toward that end has been subsidizing purchases of such products in rural areas.
From the start of the subsidies in 2009 to April, China had subsidized the sale of 241 million home appliance units valued at 567.49 billion yuan, according to ministry data.
The subsidy program will come to an end in January. Without the policy in place, sales of household appliances are certain to slow down, industry insiders say.