October 25, 2013, 5:17 PM

E-commerce in China grows 35% in first nine months of 2013

Total retail growth is 8.9%, reports the Ministry of Commerce.

Lead Photo

Shen Danyang of China's Ministry of Commerce speaks to reporters in Beijing

Online retail sales in China grew 35% in the first nine months of this year over the same period a year ago, equaling the 1.3 trillion yuan ($212.4 billion) of online sales for all of 2012, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

China’s total retail sales grew 8.9% in the first three quarters, the ministry reported last week.

“While sales from department stores, supermarkets and brand stores increased by 11.1%, 8.4% and 6.9% from January to September, e-retailing sales increased 34.7% to 1.3 trillion yuan and become a bright spot in the first nine months,” Shen Danyang, director the Bureau of International Trade Negotiations at the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters in Beijing.

If China’s e-retail sales continue to grow at a 35% in the fourth quarter they would reach $282 billion for all of 2013, and likely eclipse the U.S. as the world’s leading online retail market for the first time. U.S. e-retail sales totaled $225.5 billion in 2012 and grew by nearly 17% in the first two quarters of 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. 17% full-year growth would put U.S. e-retail sales at $264 billion for all of 2013.

U.S.-based consulting firm Bain & Company recently projected that China’s online retail sales would exceed those in the United States in 2013, basing that projection on estimates from Chinese research firms.

Apparel and consumer electronics are the largest categories of online retail sales, the Ministry of Commerce said in its report. The ministry also disclosed that it has begun this year conducting a survey of 3,000 online retailers in China to produce its estimates of business-to-consumer online sales. It previously had relied on data from Chinese research companies.

Some 200,000 Chinese companies now engage in cross-border e-commerce, the ministry said, including business-to-business and business-to-consumer online trade. The total volume of cross-border e-commerce trade amounted to 2 trillion yuan ($US327 billion) in 2012, the ministry says, including both B2B and B2C sales. The Chinese government intends to take additional steps to make cross-border Internet trading easier and to lower costs, the ministry says.

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