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Korea's retail industry grows 4.0% in January 2023-02-27

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on February 27 that Korea’s overall retail sales in January posted a 4.0 percent year-on-year growth.

Offline sales lost 0.5 percent, while online sales gained 9.1 percent.

The Ministry releases monthly retail sales figures based on surveys of 26 major retailers. Half 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 other half are online retailers.

Sales at physical stores contracted due to reduced number of store visitors owing to stores closing during Korea’s Seollal holidays and increased portion of shoppers purchasing sanitation and daily necessities online.

Convenient stores saw an 8.4 percent rise in sales due to the higher number of visitors during Seollal holidays, which led to sales growth across all categories, including miscellaneous items (up 23.7 percent) and daily necessities (up 19.5 percent).

Sales at hypermarket chains fell 3.8 percent due to declines in home/living goods (down 6.9 percent), home appliances/culture (down 4.0 percent), and food products (down 3.8 percent), despite growth of items like sporting goods (up 2.8 percent), miscellaneous items (up 0.7 percent) and clothing (up 0.2 percent).

Those at department store chains shrank 3.7 percent, as consumer sentiment retreated and overseas travel resumed once more, reducing sales of foreign designer labels (down 7.2 percent). Household goods (down 18.4 percent) and women’s suits (down 3.4 percent) also decreased.

SSM operators experienced a sales decline of 4.5 percent as sales of all categories dropped. Sales of imported agro-fishery products (down 7.2 percent) dipped in accordance with the drop in the exchange rate.

Sales at online stores, on the other hand, advanced 9.1 percent, thanks to soaring demand for services/other (up 27.3 percent) as overseas travel packages, Seollal holiday gift e-coupons and other performance ticket sales thrived. Most categories enjoyed growth, including home appliances/culture (up 6.5 percent), food products (up 10.7 percent) and cosmetics (up 12.2 percent).