Chart of the Week March 19, 2021: The Growth of Online Sales and E-Commerce in China


Led by several giants such as Taobao, Jingdong and Pinduoduo, e-commerce in China has been growing rapidly in the past few years. In 2020, although the COVID-19 pandemic significantly lowered the online sales growth rate, the total e-commerce market shares continued to grow and reached its highest point of 27% in Q2 2020. This week’s chart utilizes data from the National Bureau of Statistics, China to show the changes in online sales from 2018 to 2020.  


  • The pandemic seems to have accelerated the already ongoing transition of shopping preferences from offline to online.  
  • Two festivals could explain the seasonality of the online sales: (1) The Spring Festival lowers the sales in Q1 of each year, as most online stores are closed during this period. (2) The Double Eleven shopping festival initiated by Taobao, which offers large discounts to consumers, drives the online sales in Q4 of 2020. 
  • The growth of online sales was negatively affected by the pandemic in Q1 2020 but rebounded quickly in Q2. 
  • The steady growth of the share of online sales indicates a promising market size for e-commerce, especially in the post-pandemic era. 

Article by ZHU, Yan

Graphic By Shu En LEE

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