BEIJING, March 14 (Xinhua) -- China's retail sales of consumer goods held steady in the first two months of the year, with strong growth in online sales and the catering sector, official data showed Thursday.
The indicator of consumption rose 8.2 percent year on year in the first two months of the year, flat with that in December, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
After deducting price factors, the indicator grew 7.1 percent in real terms, accelerating from December's 6.6-percent rise, NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong said at a press conference.
Thursday's data also showed consumption in rural areas climbed 9.1 percent, outpacing a rise of 8 percent in urban regions. The catering industry reported a 9.7-percent increase in revenue.
Online retail sales maintained robust growth, up 13.6 percent in the first two months, with physical commodity sales surging 19.5 percent from one year earlier.
With a market of nearly 1.4 billion increasingly prosperous population, China strives to make consumption a major driver of its economic growth.
Consumption contributed 76.2 percent to the country's GDP growth last year. Retail sales rose 9 percent from one year earlier to 38.1 trillion yuan (about 5.7 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018.