Alipay, the widely used online payment system owned by Alibaba Group, sent out individual buying reports on January 15 which listed how much users spent online over the past year.
In recent years, e-commerce has become a force to reckon with in China's emerging consumer market and the data released by Alipay offers an important glimpse into how spending behaviors are changing.
But, at the same time, we should all be aware of the problems China's booming online shopping market could pose for the real economy.
As has been well established, the proliferation of low-margin online stores in China has led to the shuttering of countless brick-and-mortar retailers nationwide. But when a physical store is closed for good, more is lost than money for its owners. The people who worked at that store have to find new jobs, putting pressure on the labor market. Moreover, the neighborhood where the store was located will also lose visitors, potentially bringing fewer clients to other nearby establishments.
The author is Liu Jingyao, a commentator.
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