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Online sales for high-end retailers jump amid virus outbreak

Show hosts promote a bag on a livestream. (Lotte Department Store)
Show hosts promote a bag on a livestream. (Lotte Department Store)

As retail businesses are seeing a boost in their sales online amid the COVID-19 outbreak, high-end department stores and outlets have also hopped on the bandwagon, according to the industry on Wednesday.

WeMakePrice, a South Korean e-commerce platform operator, said the combined sales of department stores and outlets it hosts spiked in the period from Feb. 1 to 28 by 316 percent from a year earlier.

While department stores and premium outlets are widely seen to be more dependent on physical stores, the epidemic outbreak appears to be ushering consumers to shop online.

By categories, the sales of food and health-related items from high-end retailers on WeMakePrice skyrocketed to record an increase of 708 percent, followed by 533 percent increase in fashion and 518 percent in baby- and childbirth-related items. Merchandise in the living and cooking category witnessed a 439 percent rise in sales, and furniture and decoration materials marked a 411 percent increase.

Currently, 10 department stores and outlets are registered as sellers on WeMakePrice. The five department stores are Lotte Department Store, Hyundai Department Store, AK Department Store, Say Department Store and Daegu Department Store. The five outlets are Lotte Outlet’s four regional stores and Mario Outlet.

Lotte Department Store is also operating a webcast channel on its online retail site, Lotte Premium Mall, where show hosts and influencers appear on a livestreaming show to advertise merchandise -- similar to televised home shopping programs.

The department store sold 100 million won ($84,000) in air purifiers and clothes refreshing appliances it prepared on the livestream on Feb. 24, it said.

“We are continuing with this marketing approach as non-face-to-face shopping is increasing. We will come up with various services to meet the changing shopping environment,” a Lotte Department Store official said.

By Jo He-rim (