Online boom sees South Korean retail sales surge in September


South Korean retail sales rose by 8.5 per cent year on year in September as online stores enjoyed brisk sales amid the new coronavirus pandemic, government data shows.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached US$10 billion last month, up from $9.87 billion won in September last year, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Online platforms led the overall growth, with their revenue advancing 20 per cent over the period, the data showed, apparently as people purchased more goods through such stores amid the country’s social distancing scheme.

Sales of foodstuffs from online stores jumped 60.2 per cent, while those of electronic goods and daily products advanced 26 per cent and 14.7 per cent, respectively.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, sales of tour packages and concert tickets dipped 12.3 per cent, while those of fashion items also moved down 1.6 per cent.

Sales from offline stores edged up 1 per cent as people purchased more gifts to celebrate the Chuseok holiday, which ran from late September to early this month.

Convenience stores saw their sales improve 2.3 per cent, due to higher sales of tobacco products and alcohol.

Sales from supermarkets also climbed 5.3 per cent on the back of gift sales.

Department stores, on the other hand, saw their sales drop 6.2 per cent due to sluggish demand for fashion goods.

In the first six months of the year, the combined retail sales reached $59.1 billion, up 3.7 per cent from the previous year. Shipments by online stores advanced 17.5 per cent, while those of offline stores dipped 6 per cent.

Last year, South Korean retail sales rose by 4.8 per cent year-on-year, with online shopping up 14.2 per cent, and offline down 0.9 per cent.

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