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February 7, 2019

China set to overtake US as top retail market

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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