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Mixed fortunes for retailers in Japan and South Korea

A Christmas shopper at Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district. Reuters/Issei Kato.

Japan retail sales fell in December while further south, online sales drove growth in South Korea.

In South Korea, retail sales surged 5.5 per cent for the full year due to the thriving online segment resulting from the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. The December retail sales recorded 9 per cent growth, with online sales up 27.2 per cent. Food, home appliances, books and toys were the key categories driving online sales.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, retail sales generated from local online shops last year increased 18.4 per cent, while those of brick-and-mortar outlets dropped 3.6 per cent. The country saw high demand for online food ordering, which rose 51.5 per cent.

The convenience-store sector also witnessed growth, up 2.4 per cent. Meanwhile, due to social distancing restrictions and lock downs, sales from department stores shrunk 9.9 per cent and supermarket sales dropped 3 per cent.

Japan, however, is still struggling to bounce back with a 0.3 per cent year-on-year fall in December. Japanese retail sales for the full year were down 3.3 per cent at US$1.4 trillion.

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