Hypermarkets are becoming the store of choice for affluent Chinese consumers - with supermarket sales down in recent years, according to a new study.

More and more of China's booming - and affluent - middle class are visiting hypermarkets more frequently at the expense of the country's supermarkets, industry analysts TNS Worldpanel have said.

Hypermarkets now account for 29.8% of grocery sales in China's 15 largest cities, TNS said, up from 28.5% two years ago. In Shanghai, for instance, hypermarkets account for 45% of grocery sales.

Supermarket sales have slumped from 28.4% in 2001 to 19.1% at the end of June this year, the study claimed.

"On average, China's middle class consumers visit hypermarkets every 10 days, making for a frequent-shopping pattern that owners of hypermarkets can bank on for a predictable revenue stream," said Jason Yu, TNS regional account development director.