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Korea's retail industry gains 7.5% in September 2022-10-31

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on October 31 that Korea’s retail sales in September recorded a year-on-year growth of 7.5 percent.

Both physical and online retailers gained in sales, up 6.0 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively.

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

Sales at offline stores advanced 6.0 percent compared to the same period last year. Increase of outdoor activities is boosting sales of all offline business sectors and number of total purchases (up 11.2 percent), but surging inflation rate is simultaneously lowering purchase unit prices of all sectors, dragging down total unit price by 4.6 percent.

Hypermarket chains inched down 0.3 percent in sales, owing to the Chuseok holidays that fell on earlier dates compared to the previous year. Sales in home/living (down 5.1 percent) and home appliances/culture (down 2.8 percent) both slid, reducing total hypermarket sales by 0.3 percent.

Sales at SSMs shrank 0.1 percent despite the growing sales of processed food products (up 5.5 percent) and fresh/cooked food products (up 5.0 percent), due to the decrease in miscellaneous goods (down 5.1 percent) and agriculture, fisheries and livestock products (down 6.5 percent).

Meanwhile, sales at department store chains grew 8.5 percent on the backs of receding COVID and increasing popularity of outdoor activities, which lowered sales of household items (down 14.3 percent) and food products (down 12.8 percent). On the other hand, women’s suits (up 31.3 percent) and men’s clothing (up 20.2 percent) flourished.

Convenience store chains suffered purchase unit price drops from inflation but rising trend of outdoor activities raised the number of customers and sales volume across all categories, driving up total sales by 10.6 percent.

Online retail sales expanded 9.1 percent as e-coupon sales and travel packages, especially to Japan, gained popularity and rose in sales of services/other (up 30.8 percent) category.

Cosmetics (up 12.5 percent) and food products (up 9.2 percent) maintained robust sales. However, Chuseok holidays fell on earlier dates compared to last year, which slowed down the overall online sales growth pace.