BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- China saw steady expansion in wholesale and retail sector from 2014 to 2018, the fourth national economic census showed.
At the end of 2018, both the number of firms and employees of the sector surpassed other subsectors in the tertiary industry, according to a report on the fourth economic census released by the National Bureau of Statistics Wednesday.
The number of enterprises in the sector reached 6.5 million, up 131.2 percent from the end of 2013, employing 40.08 million people, the report showed.
In 2018, the sector's operating revenue stood at 88.2 trillion yuan (about 12.53 trillion U.S. dollars), up 44.1 percent from 2013, which accounted for 58.5 percent of the tertiary industry's total.
In breakdown, wholesale firms' total assets rose to 42.1 trillion yuan at the end of 2018, and their combined annual operating revenue increased 44.9 percent from 2013 to 72.3 trillion yuan in 2018.
Medicine and medical equipment firms reported the fastest growth in the wholesale sector during the five-year period, with an average annual growth rate of 20.2 percent.
Retail companies' assets totaled 11.3 trillion yuan at the end of 2018, with the annual operating revenue rising to 15.9 trillion yuan in 2018, according to the report.
Private companies in the wholesale and retail sector expanded 179.4 percent to 5.5 million at the end of 2018, while foreign-funded companies amounted to 24,000, up 26.1 percent from the end of 2013.
The fast expansion of the sector made contributions to guiding production, promoting consumption and stabilizing employment, said the report.