BEIJING: Consumer spending in China will be given a boost by further urbanisation according to a leading official, as a new government plan anticipates 60% of the population will live in urban areas within the next six years.

Although retail sales had slowed during the first two months of 2014, Zhao Ping, deputy director of the Consumption Economy Research Department of Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, did not expect the rest of the year would follow the same pattern.

And he thought there was significant potential for growth as more people moved to towns and cities.

"Expansion of consumption brought by urbanisation may not account for a large proportion, but the increment will be substantial," he told Xinhua, adding that the resulting household spending would be a "hotspot" for the consumer market, with a boom in sales of building materials, furniture, home appliances, food and beverages and mobile phones.

The recently unveiled national plan foresees the proportion of permanent urban residents rising from 53.7% of the population in 2013 to 60% by 2020, with green production and consumption becoming the norm in the urban economy.

According to the report, China will "focus on three tasks, each concerning 100 million people: granting urban residency to around 100 million rural people who have moved to cities, rebuilding rundown city areas and villages inside cities where around 100 million people live, and guiding the urbanisation of around 100 million rural residents of the central and western regions in cities there".

A separate survey by China International Capital Corporation, the country's largest investment bank, found that rural Chinese were optimistic about their income growth, and highlighted spending on houses, cars and tourism as their top three priorities.

Data sourced from Xinhua; additional content by Warc staff