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E-com in China to be over half of retail sales in 2021: eMarketer

Feb '21
Pic: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
Pic: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
Market intelligence firm eMarketer recently forecast that 52.1 per cent of China’s retail sales will come from e-commerce in 2021, up from 44.8 per cent last year. This is for the first time anywhere that a majority of retail sales for an entire country will transact online. The country with the next-highest rate of e-commerce as a share of total retail sales is South Korea.

South Korea is projected to transact 28.9 per cent of its sales online this year. In the United States, that figure will be just 15 per cent, and the average among Western European countries will be 12.8 per cent, the company said in a press release.

China has long led the world in aggregate e-commerce sales figures and e-commerce’s share of total retail. However, as recently as 2018, that share was only 29.2 per cent, which is relatively close to what e-commerce’s share will be in South Korea and the United Kingdom this year.

Yet, China seemingly reached a behavioral tipping point over the past few years, wherein e-commerce enthusiasm accelerated rather than leveled off. While the pandemic did not create this trend, it certainly buttressed it, and China’s most recent e-commerce boom did not decelerate even after the country got a handle on the virus and the economy fully reopened.

Last year, brick-and-mortar sales declined by 18.6 per cent in China, and the company project brick-and-mortar sales will decline by another 9.8 per cent this year. By comparison, e-commerce grew by 27.5 per cent in 2020 and will grow by another 21 per cent in 2021. Ten years ago, e-commerce’s share of total retail in the United States and China were nearly identical—4.9 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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February 2021

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