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Shopping behavior in China - statistics & facts

Consumer habits have changed dramatically in the past decade in China, owing to the rise in disposable income and the prevalence of technology. One significant growth area resulting from this change are virtual shopping services, which are winning more and more customers over from brick-and-mortar stores. A further surge of digital payment options has freed Chinese consumers from cash and credit cards. Going on a shopping tour with only mobile phones or even smart wearables is no longer considered a novelty for most Chinese urban consumers. In metropolises, the emerging middle-class consumers are willing to spend more on higher-quality and more sustainable products, while the price is still one of the most important incentives for consumers from rural areas.

The shift in preferences

China has witnessed significant consumption upgrades in recent years, owing to the rising purchasing power of its citizens. The wealthier Chinese consumers are eager to spend their money on premium goods and branded goods. The sales value of personal luxury goods has more than tripled in the last decade, as most Chinese consumers are willing to spend more on themselves.

On the other hand, the escalation of the U.S.-China trade war and burgeoning domestic consumer goods industry has shifted consumers’ brand preferences as well. An overwhelming two-thirds of Chinese consumers preferred local brands over foreign brands in 2020, while only less than ten percent of consumers stated so five years ago.

Post-pandemic shopping trends

Despite the turbulent year of 2020, consumption in China is resilient. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic subsides and restrictions are lifted, Chinese consumers are gradually regaining their confidence. The retail sales of consumer goods recorded overall positive year-on-year growth since August 2020. By the end of 2020, retail sales roughly recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This rapid rebound of consumption in China was fueled by innovative retail services. Around 57 percent of consumers in a survey stated that they used more online-to-offline (O2O) delivery and community group-buying services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, the pandemic brought huge impacts to Chinese consumers by changing their values. Consumers are more likely to spend their money on more sustainable and healthier products. An increasing number of Chinese also said they would support enterprises that took more corporate social responsibilities during the pandemic.

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