When you think of that old cliche "shop-till-you-drop", you probably picture upper-middle class Americans racing around shopping malls and outlet centers.
The numbers certainly support that picture... in 2013 the average American consumer burned through about $53,000. According to the world bank, American households had spent a whopping $11 trillion on goods and services by the end of the same year.
So why then are some experts suggesting that China is set to surpass the US household spending in the near future?
The average yearly income of a Chinese household was only a mere $7,600 in 2013; American households earned about $51,000 on average. It seems almost impossible that consumers in the People's Republic could manage to hit the shops to the tune of $3.4 trillion.
However, that figure starts to make more sense once you spread it around. Per-capita in 2013, the average Chinese citizen spent approximately $6,807. That would account for 90% of their income.
More importantly... the growing class of rich Chinese are spending mountains of cash. In a world bank study, researchers found that the top 10% in China is earning nearly 25.5 times more than the bottom 10% of Chinese citizens. In addition, the total income of China's top 10% is increasing at a rate 58 percentage-points faster than that of their lowliest 10%.
Should China truly manage to outspend the United States by 2018, it will be because the rich will be shopping and not dropping.