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Overall retail sales in January gain 10.6 percent with online sales expanding at 17.3 percent 2019-02-28

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on February 27 that Korea’s overall retail sales in January gained 10.6 percent compared to the same period last year.
Offline retailers saw a sales improvement of 6.5 percent thanks to the Lunar New Year holiday that fell in early February. Increased sales of gift sets for the holiday led to sales growth in all types of stores. January’s year-on-year expansion was the largest for brick-and-mortar stores since February 2018.

Sales at online retailers also grew 17.3 percent year-on-year last month. Higher demand for food and gifts due to the holiday contributed to maintaining the growth momentum.

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: nine major online sellers and four online shopping intermediaries.

Among the offline retailers, the department stores saw the greatest growth rate of 7.6 percent. Food sales experienced a significant increase, and demand for household goods grew because of an inventory-clearance sale.

Sales at the convenience store chains expanded 6.6 percent primarily due to an increasing number of stores and the growing popularity of instant food. Ready-to-eat meals were in greater demand because of a rising number of single-person households. Sales per store also improved.

The SSM operators posted a sales growth of 3.7 percent. While sales of household goods declined in part as a result of web-based retailers’ sales promotion, more food products were sold ahead of the holiday.

Sales at the hypermarket chains also went up 6.3 percent thanks to rising prices for grains, including rice.

For online retailers, sales at the nine online sellers jumped 20.8 percent. This is attributable to improved sales of home appliances/electronics, services, and food. Service products attracted more consumers with the help of special travel offers.

The four online shopping intermediaries experienced a growth of 15.9 percent in sales. Traditional local food items prepared for the holiday and household goods on promotion were partly responsible for this increase.

By product, every item category saw growth in sales except for fashion/accessories, which edged down 0.4 percent. Food posted the highest growth rate of 21.7 percent, followed by global brands (up 12.3 percent), household goods (up 10.2 percent), and home appliances/culture (up 9.2 percent).

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