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Retail sales up 9.3% in H1 amid eased virus curbs

This file photo, taken on July 10, shows a shopping mall in Seoul crowded with visitors. (Yonhap)
This file photo, taken on July 10, shows a shopping mall in Seoul crowded with visitors. (Yonhap)

Retail sales in South Korea rose 9.3 percent on-year in the first half of this year amid eased COVID-19 curbs and the growth in people's outdoor activities, the industry ministry said Thursday.

The combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers reached 82 trillion won ($65.2 billion) in the January-June period, up from 75 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Sales from offline stores rose 8.4 percent in the January-June period as department stores, in particular, saw their sales jump 18.4 percent on-year due to a low base effect and the eased antivirus restrictions. Demand for luxury items, clothing and other fashion items logged solid growth.

Sales of convenience stores also went up 10.1 percent in the first six months of this year on the back of the popularity of food packages and other daily items.

But sales of discount chain stores, such as E-mart and Lotte Mart, fell 1.5 percent on-year, and those of smaller supermarkets went down 1.9 percent, the data showed.

Sales from online platforms also advanced 10.3 percent from a year earlier during the cited period over the spread of the contactless shopping trend amid the prolonged pandemic.

Demand for cosmetics via online platforms surged 21.2 percent on-year as people resumed outdoor activities. Sales of foodstuff and tickets for art performances and other services also climbed 17.8 percent and 17.0 percent on-year, respectively, the data showed.

Online platforms accounted for 48.6 percent of the total sales in the first half, slightly up from 48.1 percent a year earlier, the data showed.

In June alone, sales of offline retailers rose 9.3 percent on-year and those of online platforms grew 9.1 percent.

At offline stores, children's items and sporting goods led the overall sales growth, rising 24.1 percent on-year, and online platforms saw marked growth in demand for cosmetics, foodstuff, and leisure and cultural services, according to the data.

In April, the government lifted most strict antivirus regulations, such as business curfews and the cap on private gatherings. All schools resumed in-person classes, and many firms ended their remote working policies. (Yonhap)

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