Retail in Asia


Korean retail sales surge in August

Retail sales in South Korea surged in August, as more consumers returned to outdoor activities amid eased antivirus legislation and preparations for the Chuseok holiday.

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According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers came to KRW 14.61 trillion (USD 10.21 billion) last month, up 15.4 percent from KRW 12.7 trillion a year earlier.

The increase was the largest year-on-year rise this year for retailers in South Korea, the ministry revealed, and marked the sixth consecutive month of on-year growth.

Physical retail sales rose 14.5 percent in August, on the back of strong demand for luxury goods, clothing and other fashion items, and sporting goods. Physical department stores saw sales surge 24.8 percent year-on-year, which was led by rising demand for food and clothing, ahead of the Chuseok holiday on September 10.

Sales of convenience stores also went up 12.8 percent in August, on the back of increases in food packages and other daily items, the ministry added.

Sales of discount chain stores, such as E-mart and Lotte Mart, climbed 9.9 percent year-on-year, pushed on as more shoppers bought Chuseok gifts and other items for summer vacation. Smaller supermarkets also saw their sales rise 0.3 percent on-year, the data showed.

Meanwhile, online sales skyrocketed 16.4 percent from a year earlier, thanks to the spread of the contactless shopping, amid the prolonged pandemic.

Sales of foods items surged 27.8 percent, and online cosmetics sales rose 23.1 percent on-year, as Koreans resumed outdoor activities during the month.

Demand for various tourism and cultural services also went up 21.9 percent during the summer vacation season, coinciding with eased rules against the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the ministry.

Online platforms accounted for 47.6 percent of the total sales in August, up from 47.2 percent a year ago.

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August’s double-digit retail sales rise comes on the back of a 10 percent gain in July, signalling a sense of economic recovery in the nation. However, the country has experienced a new virus wave since late July following several months of relief after the worst infections the country has faced, particularly for the month of March.