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Retail sales up 4.4% in July on online sales of groceries amid pandemic

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Retail sales in South Korea advanced 4.4 percent in July from a year earlier as online platforms have enjoyed a spike in demand for groceries and home appliances amid the new coronavirus pandemic, data showed Sunday.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 11.46 trillion won ($9.67 billion) last month, up from 10.98 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Online platforms led the growth, with their revenue advancing 13.4 percent over the period, the data showed.

Sales of foodstuffs through online platforms shot up 46 percent 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 percent over the period.

Sales of tour packages, however, dipped 16.3 percent 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 percent 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 percent. The prolonged rainy season also led to more sales of daily items such as umbrellas, rising 14.3 percent over the period.

Supermarkets, however, saw their sales drop 5.5 percent on-year in July as consumers paid less visits amid the rainy season coupled with the virus pandemic. Sales of clothes and sports goods especially dropped 21.2 percent and 24.4 percent, respectively.

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

Over the first half of 2020, the combined retail sales reached 66.79 trillion won, up 3.7 percent from the previous year. Shipments by online stores advanced 17.5 percent, while those of offline stores dipped 6 percent.

In 2019, retail sales in South Korea rose 4.8 percent on-year. Revenue at online shopping malls advanced 14.2 percent, while that of offline stores shed 0.9 percent. (Yonhap)
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