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Korea's retail industry grows 3.3% in August 2023-09-27

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on September 26 that Korea’s retail sales for August gained an overall growth of 3.3 percent year-on-year.

Offline sales declined by 1.2 percent as Chuseok holidays are due to arrive 19 days later than they did last year (September 10, 2022), with hypermarket chain and department store sales sliding 8.4 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Online sales enjoyed growth, notably in services/other (up 13.3 percent), food products (up 13.0 percent), home/living (up 8.7 percent) and cosmetics (up 14.1 percent), with overall sales climbing 8.1 percent.

MOTIE releases monthly retail sales figures based on surveys of 25 major retailers. Thirteen of them are brick-and-mortar retailers: three department store chains, three hypermarket chains, three convenience store chains, and four “super supermarket” (SSM) operators. The remaining twelve are online retailers.

For physical store sales by item, home appliances/culture (down 9.5 percent) and foreign designer labels (down 7.6 percent) suffered declines, but fashion/miscellaneous goods (up 0.9 percent) and services/other (up 4.2 percent) advanced.

Sales at hypermarket chains dropped in home/living (down 12.8 percent) and food products (down 7.9 percent) due to slow demand for gift sets, fresh and processed food products, and sales of home appliances/culture (down 9.5 percent) also fell as a result of the high base effect from last year’s new home appliance product releases, pulling down the overall hypermarket sales by 8.4 percent.

Department store chains saw sales of food products (down 21.8 percent) plunge year-on-year as demand has yet to pick up from the relatively late coming of Chuseok holidays, and foreign designer labels (down 7.6 percent) and men’s clothing (down 6.8 percent) also shrank in sales, reducing overall sales by 4.9 percent.

Convenience stores increased in overall sales by 7.6 percent on the backs of rising trends of close proximity and small purchase shopping, as well as increased outdoor activities in step with the summer holiday season, which increased demand for miscellaneous goods (up 8.2 percent), instant food products (up 11.7 percent), beverages and processed food products (up 9.9 percent).

SSM operators rose 3.2 percent in sales despite the lag in daily necessities (down 7.6 percent), thanks to strong growth in fresh/prepared food products (up 7.7 percent) and processed food products (up 3.0 percent).

For online retail sales, cosmetics (up 14.1 percent) and food products (up 13.0 percent) enjoyed growth, boosting overall sales by 8.1 percent.

Meanwhile, sales of fashion/clothing (down 2.0 percent) and sports (down 5.6 percent) contracted as consumer sentiment deteriorated and expenditures for nonessential items were cut.