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Disaster relief fund encourages eating out more in May: statistics


The state COVID-19 relief funds distributed in May appear to have led more people to eat out or spend money on food at physical stores, according to data released by the country’s statistics agency on Friday.

Statistics Korea said the value of online shopping transactions was 12.72 trillion won ($10.6 billion) in May, up 13.1 percent compared to a year earlier.

The online shopping transaction value had jumped 24.5 percent in February, but with the COVID-19 spreading further in March, the growth rate slowed to    12.1 percent in March. The figure edged up in April with 13 percent.

By category, grocery transactions grew 33.1 percent.

The government’s emergency disaster relief fund distributed in May appears to have affected people to either eat out or buy food at brick-and-mortar stores, as the May figure has turned out to be lower than the previous month’s 43.1 percent.

The government provided a total of 9.61 trillion won worth relief fund to all Koreans in May as part of its efforts to stimulate the sluggish domestic consumption amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The rise in online transactions in the food services category, which encompasses food delivery and purchases for home meal replacements was 77.5 percent, slightly decreasing from 83.7 percent in April.

“As the disaster relief fund was limited for online usage, the increasing rate of the turnover for online food services and groceries have slowed (in May) compared to the previous month,” an official from Statistics Korea said.

The online shopping transactions for daily necessities increased by 38 percent in the month, while those for home appliances and electric and communication devices rose by 20.9 percent.

Hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, culture and leisure products, and tour and transportation services showed plunges in transactions in May on-year, standing at minus 72.1 percent and minus 61.6 percent, respectively.

Such dramatic decreases were due to the social distancing trends, the statistics body said.

According to the Interior Ministry on Wednesday, more than 82 percent of the relief fund was spent during the first month.

By Jo He-rim (