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March retail sales record 7.1% growth, both online and offline positive 2022-04-29

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on April 28 that Korea’s total retail sales in March saw a year-on-year growth of 7.1 percent.

Sales at both offline and online retailers increased, up 6.3 percent and 7.9 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 12 are online retailers.

Physical retailers achieved a 6.3 percent rise in sales as sales rose across all retail channels, with an exception for hypermarkets (up 0.0 percent), which maintained previous year’s sales level.

Department store chains advanced 7.8 percent. Spring season promotion events and heightened seasonal demand led to robust sales, led by foreign designer labels (up 21.1 percent), kids & sports (up 12.6 percent), women’s suits (up 6.9 percent).

Sales at convenience stores gained 11.5 percent. Daily necessities (up 7.3 percent), processed foods (up 9.5 percent), and miscellaneous goods (up 5.1 percent) all saw growth as consumers showed a tendency of making purchases within close-range of their homes.

SSMs climbed 4.6 percent. Processed foods (up 11.1 percent), fresh and cooked food products (up 4.6 percent), agricultural products (up 2.3 percent) were among the majority of food categories that increased, driving up overall sales despite the drop in daily necessities (down 4.4 percent).

Meanwhile, sales at hypermarket chains remained steady (up 0.0 percent). The number of hypermarket shoppers dropped due to a spike in Omicron cases, resulting in sales decline across most categories. An exception was the food product category (up 4.8 percent), helping to steady overall sales at previous year’s level.

Non-food items experienced steeper falls, with clothing (down 17.8 percent), sporting goods (down 13.9 percent), and miscellaneous goods (down 16.1 percent) sliding by double digits. The 4.8 percent increase in sales of food products (67.6 percent of total hypermarket sales as of March 2022) offset the decline.

Online retailers recorded a 7.9 percent growth in sales, seeing positive growth across all categories and particularly high demand for food products (up 24.6 percent) and daily necessities and living (up 8.4 percent) as home treatment of COVID-19 cases expanded. Cosmetic products (up 15.9 percent) also posted double-digit growth, while fashion (down 2.7 percent) and sporting goods (down 1.4 percent) inched down.