China's retail sales in 2004 are expected to reach US$628bn, a rise 13% over last year, or 9.8% after adjusting for inflation, the Ministry of Commerce said. The ministry forecast similar growth for 2005, saying it expected sales to go up by at least 10%. The projected growth rate for 2004 is 0.6% higher than total sales for 2003. Announcing the figures, a ministry official told state media that foreign-invested retailers had seen particularly strong growth, although he did not give a figure. Foreign retailers are expected to see a bigger share of the retail market in 2005, following the lifting of almost all entry restrictions on December 11 in line with China's WTO commitments.
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