China 2015 retail sales to rise 10.7 percent, slower than 2014 - commerce ministry

Customers wait in line to check out at a supermarket on the "Double 12" shopping festival in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s retail sales, a key gauge of domestic consumption in the world’s second-biggest economy, is likely to post slower growth this year compared with 2014, the commerce ministry said.

Retail sales may expand around 10.7 percent in 2015, Shen Danyang, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, told a news conference in Beijing on Thursday, without giving a reason. Retail sales rose 12 percent last year.

In the first 11 months of 2015, retail sales grew 10.6 percent from a year earlier. In November, retail sales increased by an annual 11.2 percent - the strongest monthly expansion this year.

China’s external outlook remains gloomy.

Chinese companies said global demand this year was worse than that during 2008/09 financial crisis, according to a recent survey by the commerce ministry of more than 6,000 firms in 70 key industries.

Subdued external demand, rising costs, slowing investment growth and the yuan’s appreciation have all weighed on China’s trade performance this year, Shen said.

“Feedback from firms showed foreign trade was extremely difficult this year,” he said.

China’s net exports are likely to contribute around 12.3 percent to the increase in the country’s GDP this year, he said, citing data from a research unit under his ministry.

China’s trade remained weak in November with exports falling a worse-than-expected 6.8 percent from a year earlier and imports tumbling 8.7 percent.

Reporting by Xiaoyi Shao and Nick Heath; Editing by Ryan Woo