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Overall retail sales in Korea improve 9.1% in February 2020-03-30

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on March 30 that Korea’s overall retail sales in February saw a year-on-year growth of 9.1 percent on the back of strong online sales.

Sales of brick-and-mortar stores went down 7.5 percent compared to the same period last year, while those of web-based retailers jumped 34.3 percent.

These findings are based on surveys of 26 major retailers. Half of them are offline retailers: three department store chains, three hypermarket chains, three convenience store chains, and four super supermarket (SSM) operators. The other half are online retailers.

For physical retailers, all store types, except for convenience stores and SSMs, posted decline in sales as face-to-face contacts were discouraged due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Sales at convenience stores expanded 7.8 percent. Food products (up 5.6 percent), daily necessities (up 33.3 percent) due to stronger demand of protective masks and safety medicine, and cigarettes and other products (up 8.7 percent) grew in sales.

Sales at SSMs enhanced 8.2 percent as preference for consumption nearby and demand for home meals increased due to the coronavirus. Sales of agricultural products, fisheries, and livestock (up 5.9 percent), fresh and prepared food (up 7.8 percent), and processed food (up 11.1 percent) all went up and the food products as a whole improved 8.0 percent.

Meanwhile, department stores lost 21.4 percent in sales as social distancing became popular. Sales of global brands inched up 4.2 percent, but women’s casual wear (down 41.3 percent) and kids/sports (down 37.2 percent) experienced significant declines.

Sales at hypermarkets fell 10.6 percent as clothing (down 46.5 percent), miscellaneous goods (down 41.5 percent), and home appliances (down 20.9 percent) decreased in sales.

For digital retailers, sales grew 34.3 percent as consumers refrained from going out as a result of social distancing amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. Instead, demand for online shopping delivery increased and on-line sales of food products soared 92.5 percent. Sales of household goods also increased 44.5 percent due to strong demand of protective masks and sanitary products.

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