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Coronavirus sends S. Korea's consumer spending indoors plunging: expert

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a plunge in South Korean consumers' spending at department stores, cinemas and other large indoor facilities, an expert said Friday.

In contrast, consumer spending at outdoor and small facilities, including neighborhood grocery stores and camping sites, has gone up, said Lee Jae-ho, head of the Digital Economy Institute of Kakao Mobility.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has caused the frequency of visits to duty-free shops and department stores and large discount stores to decline," Lee said during an online session organized by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

However, consumer visits to neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, small convenience stores and household-items shops increased sharply, the economist said.

Lee based his claims on an analysis of national movement data collected by Kakaonavi, a local navigation provider, between February and June this year.

Touching on South Koreans' travel trend, Lee said the number of users of local hotels and resorts went south during the period due to slumping demand for trips to provincial festivals.

In contrast, demand for camping sites shot up 77 percent as more South Koreans visited national parks, mountains and valleys, he said.

The expert said businesses and companies need to preemptively prepare for changing consumer patterns in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"The COVID-19 crisis has led to new experiences and trend changes," he said. "There is a need for companies to use these as an opportunity for new growth. The government should consider these factors in crafting policies." (Yonhap)