SHANGHAI: The FMCG sector in China grew almost twice as fast as the economy overall during 2012, new data have shown.

Figures from Kantar Worldpanel, the insights provider, reveal that the fast-moving consumer goods sector grew by 14% last year, compared to the 7.8% lift recorded by GDP, a performance Kantar attributes to the twin trends of urbanisation and premiumisation.

And the spread of premium FMCG products is expected to continue during 2013, with more outlets offering such items as they seek to both increase sales value and take customers from department and specialist stores.

While hypermarkets accounted for much of the sector growth seen during 2012, other channels such as personal care stores, cosmetic stores and ecommerce have grown fastest, thanks to new store openings and an increase in the number of homes connected to the internet.

Ecommerce, in particular, saw an increase in penetration from 18% to 25% during 2012 and a rise in the number of categories shopped online from 3.2 to 3.7. In the future, Kantar expects the profile of shoppers using this channel will move away from the young affluent to include older and less affluent households.

Another development in 2012 noted by Kantar was the shift away from internationally-owned outlets towards domestic Chinese retailers. The share of 'modern trade' taken by international retailers, such as Walmart or Carrefour, declined from 29% to 27%.

The leading Chinese retailers that reported growth included Zhongbai, whose share was up from 2.0% to 2.2%, Yonghui, up from 1.2% to 1.9% and Bu Bu Gao, up from 1.2% to 1.3%.

Kantar says that that Bu Bu Gao, for example, attracted 56% of shoppers in Hunan province last year and now has a value share of 28% there.

The coming year is also expected to see faster growth in lower tier cities.

Data sourced from Kantar World Panel; additional content by Warc staff