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Korea’s retail sales move up 18.5% in March 2021-04-27

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on April 26 that Korea’s overall retail sales in March saw a year-on-year growth of 18.5 percent.

Sales at both offline and online retailers increased, up 21.7 percent and 15.2 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.

Physical retailers experienced a 21.7 percent rise in sales due to a base effect from last year’s COVID-19 impacts and seasonal promotions at offline stores.

Sales at hypermarket chains inched up 2.1 percent. Non-food items that have shown decreases due to reduced outdoor activities such as clothing (up 56.1 percent), sports (up 36.9 percent), and miscellaneous goods (up 36.9 percent) improved in sales.

Those at department store chains spiked 77.6 percent. Fashion related items experienced noticeable increases overall: kids/sports (up 109.8 percent), global brands (up 89.0 percent), women’s casual (up 84.5 percent), women’s suits (up 79.8 percent), and men’s clothing (up 78.2 percent).

Sales at convenience stores gained 10.7 percent. Daily necessities (up 13.9 percent), processed foods (up 13.1 percent), and miscellaneous goods (up 11.4 percent) all saw growth.

Meanwhile, those at SSMs fell 18.6 percent. Both food and non-food products saw declines. Daily necessities (down 23.6 percent), miscellaneous goods (down 17.1 percent), fresh and prepared foods (down 21.1 percent) and processed foods (down 19.3 percent) all went down.

Online retailers experienced a 15.2 percent growth in sales. Fashion and accessories showed strong demand, and online services including home appliance rentals and food deliveries continued to expand.

Thanks to the warm weather in March, more people spent time outdoors, driving up demand for fashion/clothing (up 26.1 percent) and cosmetic products (up 10.6 percent). Food products (up 11.5 percent) and services/others (up 73.5 percent) continued to show growth as well.

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