South Korea’s retail sales up in January on growing online demand

Retail sales in South Korea grew 4 per cent on-year in January, though offline retailers saw their sales fall due to the New Year’s holiday and amid an economic slowdown, data has showed.

The combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers came to US$11.19 billion last month, compared with 14.1 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The overall growth was led by strong demand at online platforms, which saw their sales advance 9.1 per cent on-year to 7.2 trillion won in January.

Among categories, sales of tourism and other services enjoyed a 27.3 per cent jump, and demand for foodstuff jumped 10.7 per cent.

Various New Year’s events also boosted sales of cosmetics and home appliances 12.2 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, on-year, the data showed.

But sales of offline retailers inched down 0.5 per cent to $5.7 billion in January due to fewer business days for them over the New Year’s holiday and the continued spread of the contactless shopping trend, according to the ministry.

Sales of luxury brands fell 7.2 per cent on-year to lead the overall downturn of sales at offline stores, which came amid an economic slowdown and as an increasing number of people went abroad on the lifting of antivirus regulations, according to the ministry.

It marked the first time since March 2020 that sales of luxury items logged an on-year fall.

Department stores saw their sales go down 3.7 per cent due to dwindling demand for luxury goods and clothing.

Sales at discount chain stores, such as E-mart and Lotte Mart, fell 3.8 per cent on-year, and smaller supermarkets also saw their sales fall 4.5 per cent on-year.

But convenience stores enjoyed 8.4 per cent sales growth thanks to the growth in customers during the New Year’s holiday and the strong demand for smaller food packages, according to the ministry.

Online platforms accounted for 48.9 per cent of total sales in January, up from 46.6 per cent a year ago, according to the ministry.

This story was originally published on Korea Bizwire.

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