Tourists shop at a duty-free shopping mall in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, on March 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua] Domestic consumption continued to gather speed as the country's steady recovery from the novel coronavirus epidemic lent further support to economic growth, officials and experts said on Monday. Consumer spending accounted for 54.3 percent of the country's GDP in 2020, 11.2 percentage points higher than the gross capital formation, or the outlays on additions to fixed assets, plus the net change in inventories, Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, told a news conference in Beijing. Ning said consumption in 2020 was the highest in recent years, compared with the average 53.4 percent consumption rate seen between 2011 and 2019. "Consumption is playing an increasingly important role in spurring economic growth quarter by quarter. With the effective control and prevention of the epidemic, the (pent-up) consumer demand will gradually strengthen." According to the NBS, retail sales of consumer goods fell by 3.9 percent on a yearly basis in 2020, while consumption upgrades spurred consumer goods sales in the fourth quarter. Total retail sales expanded by 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter, 3.7 percentage points faster than that in the third quarter. Retail sales of communication appliances, cosmetics and gold, silver and jewelry by enterprises above a designated size rose by 26 percent, 21.2 percent and 17.3 percent, respectively, during the fourth quarter, much higher than the levels seen in the third quarter. According to Ning, China has the right conditions to maintain a steady economic recovery in 2021. "There is still plenty of room for improvement. Though the final consumption contributed to about 60 percent of the GDP growth from 2013 to 2019, it is still lower than the 70 percent to 80 percent levels seen in developed economies. More efforts are needed to boost the purchasing power of consumers, improve consumption policies and the overall economic environment."