The retail industry is one of the most promising fields of business in China for the near future. The upward trend of the Chinese GDP is likely to continue for years to come. The contribution of merchandise trade to China’s overall GDP reached about 36 percent in 2015. Slowing exports and an increase in volume of domestic markets indicate a strategy shift of the Chinese economy towards satisfying domestic demand.
As rural and urban households have witnessed a steady growth of disposable incomes, the spending power of the Chinese population has also increased dramatically and the Chinese market has matured into one of the largest and still growing consumer markets worldwide. Foreign and domestic retailers both vie strongly for the attention of the Chinese consumer.
Retail trade revenue for consumer goods in China has grown by at least ten percent YoY during every month from 2016 to 2017. Around eleven percent of the retail sales of consumer goods in China were attributed to the online shopping segment as of 2016. Online consumption of consumer goods has increased significantly from 0.6 percent in 2007 to 12.4 percent in 2017. Average monthly retail sales revenues in the apparel and footwear sector of China have amounted to about 120 billion over the past year, with January and February being the exception due to increased consumption during the Chinese Spring Festival. This pattern can be applied to other retail subsectors: cosmetics, jewelry, sport and leisure articles, cars, furniture, communication devices, household appliances and consumer electronics.
The Chinese retail sales market is highly competitive and diversified, with the100 leading retail companies taking up a market share of comparably low seven percent in 2015. One can even observe a negative trend, as market shares of the leading Chinese retail chains were receding over the past few years. With a sales volume of about 158.6 billion yuan in 2015, the Chinese Suning Commerce Group ranked first among leading retail chain operators in China, followed closely by Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. with 153.7 billion yuan in the second place among the domestic operators.
In terms of leading foreign retail chain operators in China the Sun Art Retail Group Ltd. ranked first in 2015, with a sales volume of about 108 billion yuan. Wal-Mart (China) came in second with an overall retail sales volume of around 73.5 billion yuan.
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