US auto giant General Motors said Tuesday its sales in China fell eight percent in January from a year earlier due to fewer shopping days during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. GM and its joint ventures in China sold 246,654 units, which was up 25.3 percent from the previous month, it said in a statement. The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar and many businesses close so workers can travel home to celebrate with their families. It was unusually early this year, falling on January 23. GM\'s sales in China hit a record 2.55 million units in 2011 despite a broader slowdown in the world\'s largest vehicle market as Beijing phased out sales incentives and some cities imposed restrictions on car numbers. Foreign automakers have been outperforming their local rivals as Chinese consumers increasingly favour high quality vehicles with better safety standards, analysts have said. Total sales in China rose just 2.5 percent to 18.51 million units last year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said last month, compared with an increase of more than 32 percent in 2010. China has moved to protect its domestic auto industry recently, slapping import tariffs on some US passenger cars and sports utility vehicles, and formally withdrawing support for foreign investment in the sector.