Retail sales grew 8.1 percent year-on-year last month, the slowest rate since 2003 and down from 8.6 percent in October, according to an array of data released by the National Bureau Statics (NBS) on Friday.
Household loans, mostly mortgages, increased to 656 billion yuan in November from 563.6 billion yuan in October, central bank data showed. Vehicle sales plummeted 10 percent year-on-year, extending a decline that started in May. The slump was in line with data released by China's top auto industry association, which showed sales dived 14 per cent in November - the steepest drop in almost seven years.
The stresses on broad activity have been compounded by a sharp escalation in China's trade dispute with the United States, which has threatened to fracture global supply chains, chill investment, exports and growth.
At the same time, official figures showed that industrial output in China rose by 5.4 per cent year on year in November, also below analysts' forecasts and matching the growth rate...
In another worrying sign, growth in output at factories and workshops fell to a 33-month low of 5.4 percent on-year, from 5.9 percent in October.
"Looking ahead, we expect policymakers to take further measures to support growth as downward pressures increase - this could include possibly more reserve requirement ratio cuts, additional support for infrastructure and further cuts in taxes and social security contributions", Louis Kuijs, chief economist for Asia at Oxford Economics, wrote in a research note.
Chinese National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Mao Shengyong (毛盛勇) said there "was little anxiety" about hitting China's annual economic growth target of 6.5 percent this year, which is well down from the 6.9 percent registered last year, but he added: "The environment is still severe and complex both at home and overseas, the economy is stable, but still subject to changes and slowdown, and the downward pressure is mounting".
But China is on track to hit its 2018 economic growth target of around 6.5 percent, Mao told reporters.
Experts say consumers could be tightening their purse strings with expectations on a weaker economy this year, amid uncertainties such as the United States-China tariff war.
That comes after data at the weekend showed a sharp drop in growth for imports and exports as well as easing inflation, while the economy expanded at its slowest pace for nine years in July-September.
"Looking ahead, even if China and the U.S. can negotiate a lasting truce on trade, cooling global growth and the lagged impact of slowing credit growth will remain a headwind on economic activity in the coming months", said Evans-Pritchard.
China's fixed-asset investment growth quickened to 5.9 percent in the January-November period, compared to an expected 5.8 percent gain and the 5.7 percent growth in January-October.
NBS spokesman Mao Shengyong said there "was little anxiety" about hitting China's annual economic growth target of 6.5 percent this year, which is well down from the 6.9 percent registered in 2017.