Originally, the information is presented graphically in a pie chart, but here for simplicity, the part in question is verbalized.

In 2003
Travel sector 36%
Clothing sector 24%

In 2013
Travel sector 29%
Clothing sector 16%

The description sentences as follow:

In 2003, the online sales in the travel sector accounted for 36% of total retail sales, which was 12% higher than sales in the clothing sector. The online sales in the travel sector and in the clothing sector declined by the year 2013, with 29% and 16% respectively of total sales by sector.

My question is about the appropriateness of the preposition of "by." The given information is about only two years, and whether there was a rise or not between them is unknown. It seems to me that "declined by" means a continuous drop without any rise. Please enlighten me.

  • 1
    As a learner: by the year 2013 is a adverbial prepositional phrase modifying the verb "decline". It just says by that time the sales dropped. I don't think it gives any other additional info about the ups and downs involved.
    – Cardinal
    May 20, 2019 at 5:46
  • here for simplicity, the part in question is verbalized - not really appropriate for written use.
    – MikeB
    May 20, 2019 at 10:24
  • online sales in the travel sector. No the. Generally, statistics say X declined IN some year.
    – Lambie
    Nov 6, 2020 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


By indicates when something happens, with little precision. In your example it means around the year 2013.

For locations, by means near or next to, it's the same meaning for referring to time instead of space.

For a future date it can also means at some unspecified time before:

The company vowed to ban all plastic containers by 2022.

Renewables can reduce CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050

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