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February 7, 2019

China set to overtake US as top retail market

China is set to overtake the US as the world's top retail market in 2019, according to a new study.

By Hannah Abdulla

China is set to overtake the US as the world’s top retail market in 2019, according to a new study.

EMarketer’s latest worldwide retail and e-commerce forecast has revealed China’s retail sales this year will surpass that of the US by more than US$100bn to $5.6 trillion – a growth of 7.5%. US retail sales will also grow, by 3.3%, however, to $5.5 trillion.

“In recent years, consumers in China have experienced rising incomes, catapulting millions into the new middle class,” said Monica Peart, senior forecasting director at EMarketer. “The result has been a marked rise in purchasing power and average spending per person.”

E-commerce is a major driver of China’s retail economy, with sales growing more than 30% in 2019 to reach $1.989 trillion. That means 35.3% of China’s retail sales occur online, by far the highest rate in the world. The US lags far behind, with e-commerce on track to represent 10.9% of its retail sales. China surpassed the US in e-commerce sales in 2013.

By the end of this year, China will have 55.8% of all online retail sales globally, with that figure expected to exceed 63% by 2022.  The US’ share of the global e-commerce market, meanwhile, is expected to drop to 15% by 2022.

The results echo those of a separate survey last year that also forecast Greater China will for the first time in centuries overtake the US as the world’s largest fashion market in 2019.

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