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Korean online sales overtake stores

The total trade volume of online retailers for 2014 surpassed that of large retail stores and department stores for the first time, said Statistics Korea.

Although the overall trade volume through Korean online retailers stood at 45.24 trillion won (US$ 41.62 billion), which is slightly lower than the 46.63 trillion won (US$ 42.90 billion) trade volume for offline retailers, sales through foreign online retailers in 2014 reached 1.66 trillion (US$ 1.54 billion), which resulted in combined overall online sales 46.90 trillion won (US$ 43.14 billion).

The figures are due to aggressive marketing strategies from local online retailers to boost Korean online sales – such as G-Market, Auction, 11st Street and Interpark, and large growth rates for social commerce companies such as Ticket Monster, Coupang and Wemap. 11st Street, one of the most successful online shopping portals, saw its trade volume surpass 5 trillion won (US$ 4.6 billion) in 2013, six years after its launch.

The total trade volume through department stores decreased 1.9 per cent to 29.23 trillion won (US$ 26.88 billion) compared to last year.

Although department stores and large retailers have been trying to attract customers by holding sales and the improving quality the merchandise on their shelves, their sales have continued to decrease. Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae Department Stores saw their March sales decrease 1 per cent, 0.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent year-on-year.

Original reporting by J. W. Choi.

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