Online shopping, artificial intelligence and robotics are all set to see significant boosts in China’s retail industry thanks to the coronavirus outbreak.
Chinas retail sector has taken a drastic hit while huge parts of the country remain on lock-down in efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus.
According to South China Morning Post retail sales dropped nearly 25 per cent during the first week of the crisis, diving further to 40 per cent in the second week.
Though its expected that consumer spending will largely return to normal when the fallout from the epidemic has subsided, the extended period of quarantine is likely to have a long-term effect on how the nation shops.
Online shopping, in which China is already a market leader, is expected to see accelerated growth due to the virus.
Older shoppers and rural residents, who have until now stuck with more traditional methods of shopping, have been forced to familiarise themselves with the digital economy in order to reduce exposure and have items delivered to their homes.
Its thought that many will continue to shop online long after the risk of exposure has passed.
Elsewhere artificial intelligence and robotics, which have been critical to the government’s epidemic control programme, are set to see accelerated growth within the retail sector.
Delivery robots have been used by the likes of JD.com to deliver medical goods to those in severely affected areas, while Alibaba opened a totally unmanned supermarket in the hospital at the epicentre of the outbreak.
The increased use of these automated technologies has again forced many who would otherwise have avoided them to become familiar with them, and thus more comfortable with their expansion in daily life.
There are now over 93,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe, 80,000 of which are in China.