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Shoppers Helping Steer China Straight

BEIJING (TheStreet) --  The latest government statistics suggest China's more than 1 billion consumers are doing their part to help the nation's economy kick the exports habit, something Beijing has been trying to do since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Retail spending nationwide last year rose 13.1% year-on-year to more than 23.4 trillion yuan, or about US$3.8 trillion, the Chinese government's National Bureau of Statistics reported Monday.

The figure signaled a slight slowdown in shopping enthusiasm from a year ago, when the government reported 2012 retail spending had jumped 14.3% from the previous year to just more than 20 trillion yuan.

Nevertheless, the bureau's latest report of more double-digit retail growth offered evidence that progress is being made in the effort to transition China to more of a consumer-based economy, even as its gross domestic product growth slows down.

Also in its Monday report of annual economic data, the bureau said China's GDP grew 7.7% in 2013 from the previous year, the slowest expansion in 14 years, mainly due to falling overseas demand for Chinese-made goods.

Domestic consumption is almost exclusively a city phenomenon, as urban shoppers account for 87% of all retail spending. The bureau cited three types of goods that saw the biggest growth last year: autos, up 10.4%; furniture, up 21%; and household electrical appliances, up 14.5%.

-- By Eric Johnson in Beijing.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.