China’s online retail sales in 2020 reported robust expansion despite the COVID-19 epidemic, according to the Ministry of Commerce on Friday.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data showed that China’s online retail sales increased 10.9 per cent year on year to reach 11.76 trillion yuan (about 1.81 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2020, the Ministry of Commerce said on its official website.

As people spent more time at home due to the epidemic, major e-commerce platforms recorded over 24 million live-streaming events to promote online shopping last year.

Meanwhile, the epidemic has driven demand for remote services of all kinds, in which the growth of sales in online education has rocketed to more than 140 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

With more people seeking diagnosis and medical advice from doctors online, the volume of online medical advice soared over 73 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

In the booming “stay-at-home economy,” products such as fitness equipment, health foods, disinfection products, mid-to-high-end kitchen appliances and pet supplies became more popular on the Internet with an average growth rate exceeding 30 per cent.

The total volume of cross-border e-commerce trade reached 1.69 trillion yuan in 2020, a 31.1 per cent year-on-year growth, according to customs statistics.

This is attributed to a package of favourable policies issued by the Chinese government, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In 2020, China deepened E-commerce Cooperation with Belt & Road Countries, established 46 Comprehensive cross-border e-commerce Pilot Zones and held the China Import & Export Fair (Canton Fair) Online, as well as Other trade fairs.

Rural e-commerce also entered a new stage last year as rural online sales reached 1.79 trillion yuan (about 278 billion U.S. dollars), up 8.9 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

This e-commerce has accelerated the industrialization and digital development of agriculture, and strongly boosted rural revitalization and poverty alleviation.