Retail in Asia


South Korean retail sales up 9.3 percent in H1

Retail sales in South Korea increased 9.3 percent year over year in the first half of this year as a result of fewer COVID-19 restrictions and a rise in outdoor recreation.

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According to information gathered by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, the combined sales of 25 big offline and online shops were KRW 82 trillion (USD 65.2 billion) from January to June, up from KRW 75 trillion won (USD 5.75 biilion) in the previous year.

Between January and June, offline sales increased by 8.4 percent. Department stores in particular experienced a 18.4 percent year-over-year sales increase. The surge in sales is as a result of a low base effect and loosened antiviral limitations. Luxury goods, apparel, and other fashion-related items saw strong growth in demand.

In the first half of this year, convenience shop sales increased 10.1 percent thanks to the popularity of food packages and other everyday items.

Sales at smaller supermarkets decreased by 1.9 percent, while those at discount chain stores like E-mart and Lotte Mart declined by 1.5 percent year over year.

In the same time frame, online platform sales also increased 10.3 percent from a year earlier due to the continued pandemic and the rise in popularity of the contactless shopping trend.

As consumers started outside activities, demand for cosmetics on internet platforms increased 21.2 percent year over year. Food sales and ticket sales for artistic performances and other services both increased 17.8 percent and 17.0 percent year over year.

The report indicated that online platforms made up 48.6 percent of all sales in the first half, a little increase from 48.1 percent a year earlier.

Sales at physical stores increased 9.3 percent year over year in June, while those at online shops increased 9.1 percent.

Online platforms experienced a significant increase in demand for cosmetics, cuisines, and leisure and cultural services. In offline retailers, children’s items and athletic goods led the overall sales boom, gaining 24.1 percent on-year.

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The government relaxed many of its harsh anti-virus laws in April, including commercial curfews and the limit on private gatherings. In-person instruction was reinstated in all schools, and many businesses stopped their remote work programmes.