China to pass US in retail sales this year

Chinese consumers should outspend their American counterparts in 2019, with retail sales in the Asian giant continuing to grow in the coming years, according to an industry forecast published Wednesday.

Retail sales in China are expected to hit $5.64 trillion, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2018, while Americans are likely to spend $5.53 trillion, a 3.3 percent increase, according to the market research firm eMarketer.

"In recent years, consumers in China have experienced rising incomes, catapulting millions into the new middle class," Monica Peart, forecasting director at eMarketer, said in a statement.

Growth in China's retail sector has been driven by online sales, which should expand by 30 percent this year, reaching $1.99 trillion, according to the firm.

This would mean more than 35 percent of all Chinese retail sales will occur online, by far the highest proportion for ecommerce in the world.

By comparison, online sales in the United States represented only 10.9 percent of the overall market in 2019, according to eMarketer.

China's online retail sales are already greater in value than in the United States and should represent 55.8 percent of global online ecommerce by the end of this year, rising to 63 percent by 2022 -- when Americans will account for only 15 percent.

While its market share has steadily declined in recent years, Chinese online retail giant Alibaba should still account for 53.3 percent of online retail in China this year, according to eMarketer.

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