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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth -> 
Retail business in winter as shoppers go online
    2015-03-10  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    HUNCHED over the counter of his tiny, gadget-filled stall in Beijing’s vast Hailong Electronics City, Wang Ning bemoans a week without a single sale.

    “It’s dying,” says Wang, shaking his head as he looks out at abandoned stores and torn promotional posters in what was once the busiest market in the Zhongguancun district, known as China’s silicon valley. “There are more sales staff than customers around here. Everyone buys online now.”

    The six football-field-sized floors are dotted with shuttered shops, victims of the rise of Internet-based businesses like Jack Ma’s Alibaba and billionaire Richard Liu’s JD.com, which started out in Zhongguancun almost two decades ago.

    The online revolution promises to boost productivity and could create 46 million new jobs in China by 2025, many of them higher-skilled, according to a report by New York-based McKinsey & Co. in July. The losers will be as many as 31 million traditional roles, the equivalent of the entire employed population in Britain.

    While such creative destruction is a global phenomenon, its speed and scale in China is unparalleled, said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center, a private research agency based in Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba.

    “The Internet helps improve productivity and efficiency, but it can be quite painful for traditional businesses,” Cao said.

    Productivity boost

    The shift online could contribute up to 22 percent of the nation’s productivity growth by 2025 and make up 7 percent to 22 percent of the total increase in gross domestic product from 2013 to 2025, McKinsey found. By 2025, that could translate into as much as 14 trillion yuan (US$2.2 trillion) in annual GDP.

    “U.S. traditional retail networks are strong, but Chinese consumers long faced an archaic, inefficient brick-and-mortar network,” Josh Gartner, a Beijing-based spokesman for JD.com, said in a Feb. 3 phone interview. “Consumers flock to superior service.”

    The expansion of Internet-related businesses is “where our hope lies,” Ma Jiantang, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a press conference in Beijing on Jan. 20 after releasing GDP data that showed the slowest annual expansion since 1990.

    Old vs. new

    Zong Qinghou, China’s fifth-richest man with a beverage and chain-store conglomerate, said at a forum in August that online shopping businesses are “affecting China’s economic security” by suffocating stores that have to pay rents.

    “Online shops are virtual, and if they kill all the real economy, what business can they do? What products can they sell?” Zong said in comments published on the official People’s Daily’s website in August. He said the government should enhance supervision on virtual shops.

    “Clashes between the old and new economies” will intensify, said Ouyang Rihui, the deputy dean at the Academy of Internet Economy, a research agency within the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. He said the loss of retailers is just the beginning of the effect of technology on jobs.

    “The real challenge for China will be at the front end of production — imagine a day when most manufacturing is automated,” said Ouyang, who helped the government draw up plans to develop the Internet economy. “At the end of the day, the new economy will win.”

    (SD-Agencies)

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