China is poised to become the world’s top retail market in 2019, surpassing the United States by more than $100 billion, according to a retail and e-commerce forecast presented by eMarketer, New York.
This year, China’s total retail sales will grow 7.5% to reach $5.636 trillion. For comparison, U.S. retail sales will grow 3.3% to reach $5.529 trillion. Growth rates are slowing for both countries, but China’s growth rate will exceed that of the United States through 2022.
“In recent years, consumers in China have experienced rising incomes, catapulting millions into the new middle class,” says Monica Peart, senior forecasting director. “The result has been 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 United States lags far behind, with e-commerce on track to represent 10.9% of its retail sales. China surpassed the United States 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 United States’ share of the global e-commerce market is expected to drop to 15% by 2022.
“Relative newcomers and multi-channel retailers continue to take share,” Peart says. “The mature players set their sights on further international expansion. Smaller local players are finding their niche in the Chinese e-commerce market by integrating WeChat and using online-to-offline data to better target consumers.”
eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.