BEIJING: Chinese shoppers spent 352bn yuan online in the first quarter of 2013, a 17% decline from the same period a year earlier, but annual sales in 2013 are still expected to exceed those in 2012.

According to a new report from iResearch Consulting Group, second quarter sales could reach 425m yuan with sales for the calendar year totalling 1.85tr yuan, China Daily reports.

"We estimate the turnover increase of China's online shopping industry will be around 40 percent year-on-year in coming quarters," said iResearch analyst Zhang Jing.

There was a particular factor behind the first quarter slowdown. "Several large-scale promotional campaigns at the end of 2012 consumed buyers' purchasing power — that's the major reason for the decline," explained Zhang.

During November and December, leading e-commerce websites, including Tmall, JD and Suning, launched a series of sales promotions that saw fourth quarter online sales increase by more than 100bn yuan to reach 425bn yuan.

Meanwhile,  a separate survey from the consultancy PwC has indicated that the Chinese are more enthusiastic than most about shopping online, with 58% of online shoppers doing so at least once a week, compared to an average of 29% globally. Price and convenience were cited as major factors behind the channel's popularity.

But analysts expect that factors other than price will come into play. "Future competition among e-commerce websites will no longer just be about price – players will focus on lifting service quality to attract customers," said Zhang.

Elsewhere, Alibaba Group Holding has unveiled plans to expand its two ecommerce platforms – Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer platform and Tmall, a business-to-consumer platform – beyond mainland China and into Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

"We want to partner with local companies in payments systems and logistics to reach the overseas Chinese market," said Daphne Lee, director of overseas business at

Data sourced from China Daily, Bloomberg, Camnpaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff