The Ministry of Commerce reported that China's top 30 chain stores'' total sales reached RMB 170.5 billion (US$20.6 billion) from January to June, up 38% over the same period in 2003. Chain sales accounted for 6.8% of China's overall retail sales, an increase of 1.8%. The Shanghai Bailian Group, the result of a 2002 merger of Shanghai Bailian Group and Lianhua Group, China's two biggest chains, topped the list with sales income of RMB 30.4 billion (US$3.67 billion), a year-on-year increase of 23%. Shanghai Balian moves fast: it opened 432 outlets in the first six months, bringing its nationwide total to 4,789.
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