China Emerges World’s Largest Retail Market

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In 2016, China will surpass the US to become the world's largest retail market with total sales of US$ 4.886 trillion, compared to US$ 4.823 trillion in the US, according to eMarketer's latest worldwide retail forecast. China will also remain the world's largest retail ecommerce market, with sales expected to top US$ 899.09 billion this year, representing almost half (47.0%) of digital retail sales worldwide. With China having one of the most developed ecommerce markets in the world, eMarketer expects purchases made digitally will represent a globe-topping 18.4% of the country's total retail sales this year. China will continue to see massive gains in retail ecommerce over the next few years, with sales topping US$ 2.416 trillion in 2020. Spending via mobile is also booming and this year will account for 55.5% of all ecommerce sales and reach 68% by 2020.

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China's booming ecommerce market can be attributed in part to the proliferation of the dominant domestic marketplaces such as Alibaba, Tmall and JD.com, which took advantage of the country's undeveloped traditional retail infrastructure. eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart commented, "Alibaba, Tmall and JD.com positioned themselves well to capitalise on growing consumer demand by creating their own payment systems (e.g., Alibaba's Alipay) and logistical services (e.g., JD.com operates a self-owned logistics network).

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"In addition, with rising incomes and increased internet access in rural areas the cultural appetite to shop digitally will continue and we can expect to see further growth in mobile spend," noted Peart. Asia-Pacific as a whole remains the world's largest retail ecommerce market, with sales expected to top US$ 1 trillion in 2016 and more than double to US$ 2.725 trillion by 2020. According to eMarketer's forecast, the region will also see the fastest rise in retail ecommerce sales, climbing 31.5% this year. Expanding middle classes, greater mobile and internet penetration, growing competition of ecommerce players and improving logistics and infrastructure will all help to fuel ecommerce growth in the region. Asia-Pacific will continue to lead all regions in total retail sales with US$ 8.997 trillion this year, accounting for 40.8% of the global total.       

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