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Retail sales up 10.1 pct in May amid eased virus curbs

A department store in Seoul is crowded with customers last Friday. (Yonhap)
A department store in Seoul is crowded with customers last Friday. (Yonhap)

Retail sales in South Korea rose 10.1 percent on-year in May on the back of growing demand for fashion-related items and other services amid the government's relaxation of COVID-19 curbs and the growth in people's outdoor activities, the industry ministry said Tuesday.

The combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers reached 14.45 trillion won ($11.24 billion) last month, up from 13.1 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Sales from offline stores rose 9.3 percent to 7.48 trillion won on the back of rising demand for fashion items and sporting goods.

Sales of children's items and sporting goods jumped 26.8 percent on-year, and luxury items enjoyed a 23.6 percent growth in sales. Demand for fashion and related items also rose 19.3 percent on-year at offline stores.

The increase came after the government lifted strict social distancing rules to support people's return to pre-pandemic normalcy, as the omicron-driven pandemic has receded, according to the ministry.

Among offline retailers, department stores saw their sales jump 19.9 percent on-year on rising demand mainly for clothing and other fashion items.

Sales of convenience stores also went up 12.5 percent, as all schools resumed in-person classes and many firms ended their remote working policies.

Those of discount chain stores, such as E-mart and Lotte Mart, however, also fell 3.0 percent on-year and smaller supermarkets saw their sales decrease 2.8 percent on falling demand for agricultural and fisheries products and other daily items, the data showed.

Sales from online platforms advanced 9.3 percent from a year earlier in May.

On online platforms, sales of cosmetics and foodstuff surged 26.7 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively, on-year. Demand for services, including travel and art performances, also rose 17.6 percent.

Online platforms accounted for 48.2 percent of the total sales last month, slightly up from 47.9 percent a year earlier, the data showed. (Yonhap)

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