The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on March 25 that Korea’s overall retail sales in February rose 10.0 percent.
Sales at both brick-and-mortar stores and online stores expanded, up 14.3 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
The Ministry releases monthly retail sales figures based on surveys of 26 major retailers. Half of them are physical retailers: three department store chains, three hypermarket chains, three convenience store chains, and four “super supermarket” (SSM) operators. The other half are online retailers.
Offline retailers saw a 14.3 percent growth due to stronger demand for holiday gift sets and new semester items as well as a base effect from last year’s COVID-19 impacts on sales.
Hypermarkets experienced a 15.0 percent rise in sales as people chose to spend money on holiday gift sets instead of visiting family members due to social distancing rules. Items in clothing (up 32.5 percent) and sports (up 16.8 percent) categories led to the growth in hypermarket sales.
Sales at department store chains jumped 39.6 percent. Sales of high-priced goods went up on the back of gift set-related products, and items for the new school year also attracted stronger demand. Food products (up 66.0 percent), kids/sports (up 54.4 percent), and global brands (up 45.7 percent) expanded significantly.
Those at convenient store chains inched up 2.1 percent compared to the same period last year. Despite decreases in daily necessities (down 23.6 percent) and miscellaneous goods (down 15.9 percent) due to people’s preference for online purchase, beverages and processed foods (up 8.9 percent) and cigarettes (up 1.3 percent) showed growth.
Meanwhile, sales at SSMs fell 19.2 percent. Non-food products such as daily necessities (down 33.5 percent) and miscellaneous goods (down 26.2 percent) contracted. Food products such as fresh and prepared foods (down 21.7 percent) and processed foods (down 20.1 percent) saw declines as well.
Sales at online stores continued to advance. Food products (up 16.7 percent), services/others (up 13.4 percent), and home appliances (up 10.9 percent) gained in sales.