An Australian exhibitor introduces a lobster during an import expo in Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)
The nation will roll out measures in 2019 to boost retail sales of consumer goods, as consumption is predicted to play a greater role in the economy.
The country's consumption has continued its rapid ascent, and would remain the main driver of economic growth, the Ministry of Commerce said. It estimated that the country's retail sales would climb 9 percent year-on-year in 2019, contributing some 65 percent to overall economic expansion.
Wang Bin, deputy director-general of the ministry's department of market operation and consumption promotion, said the ministry will take a series of steps to boost the consumption upgrade both in cities and the countryside, offer more services and integrate online and offline channels.
In rural markets, the ministry will continue to drive the development of e-commerce, encourage new business models and build commercial centers, Wang said during the ministry's latest annual meeting.
In urban areas, the ministry will speed up the renewal of pedestrian zones, vigorously develop branded convenience store chains, and upgrade vegetable markets and other business outlets, Wang said.
Last year, a number of measures were piloted in 11 pedestrian zones, including Beijing's Wangfujing Street and Shanghai's Nanjing Road. Annual passenger volume in these renewed pedestrian zones is estimated to exceed 1 billion, said Zheng Wen, director-general of the ministry's department of circulation industry development.
Zheng said the ministry aims to cultivate about 50 pedestrian zones into internationally famous ones.
The authorities have been making efforts to shift the economy toward a growth model driven by consumption, services and innovation.
Zhao Ping, a senior researcher at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Academy, said: "China's consumption will continue its strong run and play a bigger role in driving quality economic growth."
Zhao said one important engine will be consumption related to the internet, which can offer innovative experiences. Besides that, durable consumer goods with high-tech features have huge potential, she added.
Last year, the country's retail sales of consumer goods have delivered stable growth with robust online shopping.
In the first 11 months of 2018, retail sales grew 9.1 percent year-on-year to 34.51 trillion yuan ($5 trillion), according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Online goods sales increased 24.1 percent year-on-year during the period.
The indicator grew 8.1 percent year-on-year in November, slightly slower than the 8.6-percent rise in October. NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong attributed the mild slowdown to retreating car purchases and falling petroleum product prices.