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South Korean retail sales surge as people stay home

South Korean retail sales surged 9.1 per cent in February, despite the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The year-on-year increase reflected consumers buying more daily necessities online as the virus spread. And, with people largely staying home, substantially less was spent eating out, so consumers were buying more food to prepare or eat at home.

According to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, South Korean retail sales rose from US$7.92 billion in February last year to $8.68 billion last month.

Online sales soared by 34.3 per cent, the strongest increase since data was first collected in 2016. By comparison, for the whole of last year, online sales rose by 14.2 per cent.

Food sales almost doubled, driving overall growth, while sales of household products were up by 44.5 per cent.

Convenience-store turnover rose by 7.8 per cent, however, overall sales across offline stores fell 7.5 per cent year on year, with department stores hardest hit, down by 21.4 per cent. 

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