Many shops are closed due to the strengthened social distancing rules. (Yonhap)
Sales of local restaurants and bars have dropped to their lowest level due to toughened social distancing rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, government data showed Sunday.
According to the Korean Statistical Information Service, the retail sales index of restaurants and bars for the first seven months of this year marked 77, the lowest since it started to compile related data in 2015 with a benchmark of 100.
The data showed the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed on the already-struggling restaurant industry here, accelerating the downward trend.
The retail sales index for restaurants was down 7.2 percent from the corresponding period last year, continuing a losing streak for a fourth year.
In 2020, the index during the period between January and July fell 12.9 on-year amid the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, the index fell 1.2 percent in 2019, 2.7 percent in 2018 and 1.7 percent in 2017.
The country’s overall retail sales index, when the restaurants and bars segment is excluded, went up 5.7 percent on-year to reach 116.6.
Statistics Korea said that sales of home appliances and groceries have increased in particular, while the sales from the service sector have decreased after the government strengthened social distancing rules.
Sales on online shopping platforms have also soared this year, posting an aggregate turnover of 108 trillion won during the January-July period.
According to Statistics Korea’s survey on the economically active population, the number of people who work at the accommodations and restaurants segment has decreased by about 562,000 between January-July to reach 2.14 million, another sign of the hardships faced by the restaurants industry.
By Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org