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South Korean retail sales rise in July, boosted by grocery

Retail sales in South Korea advanced 4.4 per cent in July from a year earlier as online platforms enjoyed a spike in demand for groceries and home appliances amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached US$9.67 billion last month, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Online platforms led the growth, with their revenue advancing 13.4 per cent over the period.

Sales of foodstuffs through online platforms shot up 46 per cent year on year as more people refrained from visiting supermarkets.

With the country’s social-distancing scheme in force, consumers also bought more daily items and furniture online, with the segment advancing 26.3 per cent over the period.

Sales of tour packages, however, dipped 16.3 per cent from online platforms, as global air travel was virtually suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Offline stores, which had been falling behind online shops even before the virus outbreak, continued to lose ground, with their sales decreasing 2.1 per cent on-year in July.

Convenience stores were the sole winners among offline shops on rising demand for sanitary items, with their revenue edging up 3.7 per cent. The prolonged rainy season also led to more sales of daily items such as umbrellas, rising 14.3 per cent over the period.

Supermarkets, however, saw their sales drop 5.5 per cent as consumers paid fewer visits amid the rainy season coupled with the virus pandemic. Sales of clothes and sports goods dropped 21.2 per cent and 24.4 per cent, respectively.

Department stores saw their revenue drop 2.1 per cent over the period, but their sales of foreign fashion brands shot up 32.5 per cent.

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