BEIJING: Despite global concerns about China's faltering economic growth, new data covering the country's retail sector should encourage domestic and international observers.

According to the China e-Business Research Center (CECRC), online sales increased 48.7% to 1.6 trillion yuan ($250bn) during the first half of 2015. This represented 11.4% of total retail sales, China Daily reported.

With a 57.7% market share of Chinese ecommerce, Alibaba's online marketplace Tmall continued to dominate while rival secured 25.1%, followed in a distant third place by (3.4%).

CECRC also noted that more cross-border ecommerce drove up retail sales and that an increasing number of transactions were conducted via mobile apps on smart devices.

Also of note for brands, CECRC analyst Mo Daiqing observed that rural areas have become the next source of growth for retail sales and that online retailers are seeking deeper integration with offline retailers.

The latest figures for online sales came out two days after official data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed China's total retail sales grew 10.8% year-on-year to 2.49 trillion yuan ($390.89bn) in August.

The better-than-expected growth rate was a modest improvement on the 10.5% recorded for July.

The NBS also noted that rural areas are driving much of this growth. Sales in rural areas increased 11.9% in August and 11.7% from January to August.

This compared favourably with urban areas, where retail sales grew 10.6% in August and 10.3% in the eight months from the beginning of January.

Also in the first eight months of the year, online sales increased 36.5% to 2.24 trillion compared with the same period last year.

Data sourced from China Daily, Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff