E-commerce in China already makes up more than 50 percent of worldwide retail sales on the internet, but the Chinese online trade is not stopping there. According to eMarketer, the expansion of e-commerce in China is still happening at a faster clip than elsewhere. Between 2016 and 2020, the share of online sales in all retail sales more than doubled – from around 20 percent to a projected 44 percent. Social commerce - a concept blending social media, e-commerce and group buying - has been making strides in recent years, bumping up online sales.
Elsewhere growth has been more gradual. In the UK and the U.S., the share of e-commerce in all retail commerce reached 27.5 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, while in Germany it increased by around 50 percent to a still quite meager 11.2 percent over the same time period. The UK is outperforming the U.S. when it comes to e-commerce sales as a share of retail sales as well as e-commerce sales relative to population. In 2019, e-commerce sales in Britain exceeded $2.1 billion per million population, while in the U.S., that number stood at almost $1.8 billion.
The COVID-19 crisis caused the share of e-commerce sales to tick up, as seen in the graphic. May 2020 numbers were not immediately available for China, but it is possible that the country exceeded its projected share of 44 percent e-commerce sales due to the crisis, even if it was not hit as hard by coronavirus restrictions as other places.