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 '19 at 5:46
  • here for simplicity, the part in question is verbalized - not really appropriate for written use. – Mike Brockington May 20 '19 at 10:24
  • online sales in the travel sector. No the. Generally, statistics say X declined IN some year. – Lambie Nov 6 '20 at 19:13

By indicates when vaguely something happens. For a future date it means before:

The company vowed to ban all plastic containers by 2022.

Renewables can reduce CO2 emissions by 70% by 2050

It's a little weird to use if for a past date but I guess it work to. It would mean at some time before 2013.

I'm not 100% sure about this, but it could also mean around the year 2013.

After all, by is used in that sense for for spacial indications (the first definition is near or next to), so it could also apply for time indications.

He liked to sit by the tree.

It makes sense in your example.

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