China leads in pace of retail recovery: Nielsen

The onset of COVID-19 in 2020 has brought profoundly affected the global retail industry and resulted in significant changes to the consumer market landscape, largely due to a shift in shopping concepts and behaviours, according to a latest study by global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen, which found China is currently leading the pace in terms of consumer market recovery.

China’s lead can be attributed to the successful control of the novel coronavirus in the country. While online consumption surged during the outbreak, offline channels are starting to rebound in full momentum, Nielson said in a press release.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, the international consumption market is showing a similar trend as observed in China earlier this year: online channels are demonstrating strong growth while retailers are accelerating the adoption of digitalization.

The COVID-19 situation in China has been largely under control, as enterprises resumed full business operation while people’s life generally returned to normal. The consumption market has also shown a steady recovery momentum.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, total retail sales of social consumer goods in the third quarter grew 0.9 per cent year on year, and this is the first positive quarterly growth recorded this year.

Additionally, China will be the only major economy in the world reporting a positive growth this year, according to a forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Tina Ding, Chief Commercial Officer of Nielsen China, said: “As seen from China’s latest economic data, as well as Nielsen’s FMCG data, the overall retail sector is on a path to recovery. During the epidemic, offline channels were severely affected while digital platforms such as online office, online shopping, online education and online entertainment, grew strongly. However, we are now starting to see positive signs of recovery in the offline channels operated by FMCGs.”

According to Nielsen’s study, heading into the third quarter, online sales started to grow in a more rational manner while offline sales rebounded strongly. In fact, the importance of online channels reached a high of 34% in the second quarter, boosted by the epidemic, as well as the e-commerce shopping festival.

However, in July and August, the growth of online sales became more rational, and the importance of online channels was 25 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, offline channels started to recover in full momentum, and the importance of offline channels in July and August was 75 per cent and 73 per cent respectively, compared to 66 per cent in the second quarter.

Through tracking offline retail channels in March and August, Nielsen found that by August, most of the offline existing stores had already returned to normal operation.

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