Retail sales up 2% in May thanks to increased demand for online shipping

Retail sales in South Korea rose 2% in May from a year earlier, with people buying more sanitary ware and food items through online platforms amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, showed data Monday.

Combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 11.630 billion won ($ 9.65 billion) last month, up from 11.4 billion won a year earlier, according to data compiled by the ministry. of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

This increase is attributable to an increase in sales on online platforms, which recorded a 13.5% increase in their revenues over the period.

Online store food sales increased almost 39%, with daily items and furniture also increasing 22.7%.

Online store shipments of electronics also rose 20%, in line with a new rebate program on energy efficient products.

Due to the global virus pandemic, however, sales of tourism services and packages fell 19% during the period.

Local consumers continued to avoid offline stores last month, following the country’s social distancing guidelines and fears of catching the virus.

Thirteen offline store operators saw their sales fall 6.1% in May from a year earlier, with convenience stores the only winners.

Sales of supermarkets and department stores declined 9.7% and 7.4%, respectively, during the period as more people avoided crowded places while shopping for basic necessities in line.

Convenience stores, on the other hand, saw sales increase 0.8% on the back of growing demand for sanitary ware.

South Korea has reported more than 12,700 cases of COVID-19, with persistent cluster infections in the Seoul metropolitan area raising concerns over a new wave of the major pandemic in the country.

In 2019, retail sales in South Korea grew 4.8% year-on-year.

Sales of online shopping centers grew 14.2%, while that of offline stores fell 0.9% over the period. (Yonhap)

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