China had 967 retail chain firms, which operated a total of 39,089 chain stores across the country by the end of last year, mostly in its economically prosperous east area, a survey has found.
According to the survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in cooperation with the China General Chamber of Commerce, the figure represented a net increase of more than 8,000 over the previous year, up 27 percent.
About 93.4 percent of the 967 retail chain firms are owned by domestic investors, but no figures were given on their share of the retail market.
The combined retail volumes of those chain stores exceeded 343. 4 billion yuan (US$41.4 billion ), up nearly 40 percent year-on-year.
The survey indicated that 75.3 percent of the chain stores were located in the eastern region, 14.4 percent in the central part of the country, while the vast but poor western region accounts for only 10.3 percent of the stores.
Approximately half of the 39,089 chain stores are located in east China's Shanghai municipality, the country's biggest industrial and financial center, its neighboring province of Jiangsu province, the national capital Beijing, and south China's Guangdong Province, which borders Hong Kong.
An official with China General Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that chain stores are gaining greater market shares at the expense of traditional retail business, such as department stores.
China has been opening its retail outlets to overseas retailers in selected areas at a pace much faster than it promised upon its entry into the World Trade Organization.
(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2004)