The mainland's retail sales will probably grow by a higher than expected 14.5 per cent this year as disposable incomes maintain their fast and steady growth, the China General Chamber of Commerce says. Retail sales on the mainland would reach 8.7 trillion yuan, said a report posted yesterday on the website of the business group, which has 1,500 direct corporate members and 70,000 associate corporate members. The chamber's estimate is higher than the 8.6 trillion yuan or 13.2 per cent growth forecast by the Ministry of Commerce earlier this year. The government has made boosting domestic consumption a priority to drive economic growth, instead of infrastructure spending, property development and manufacturing. Retail sales in the first two months of this year rose 14.7 per cent compared with a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Retail sales grew 13.7 per cent last year and 12.9 per cent in 2005, previously published statistics showed. The chamber said retail sales in central China grew a robust 15 per cent last year, up 1.1 percentage points from 2005. Sales in eastern China last year grew 15.2 per cent and in western China 14.9 per cent, both up 0.9 percentage points. Petrochemical product sales showed the highest sales growth last year, at 36.2 per cent, followed by gold and jewellery at 28.5 per cent. Investment bank Credit Suisse said in a report last month: 'In 2006, China's total consumption as a percentage of GDP is estimated to be 46 per cent - very low by international standards. 'We expect the consumption ratio to increase by one percentage point per annum in the years ahead and reach 60 per cent by 2020.' Last month, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to spend 80 per cent more this year on education and 40 per cent more on health care as part of a campaign to spur spending and make the country's economic growth less reliant on exports and investment.