Retail sales up 6.4 pct in Aug. on popularity of food delivery

September 29, 2021

Retail sales in South Korea moved up 6.4 percent in August from a year earlier, data showed Wednesday, as people continued to purchase more food and groceries online amid the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combined sales of 25 major offline and online retailers reached 12.6 trillion won (US$10.6 billion) last month, compared with 11.9 trillion won tallied in the previous year, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Sales from offline stores moved up 2.5 percent on-year in August, as a strong performance from department stores recouped losses from supermarkets.

A shopper purchases groceries at a supermarket in Seoul on Sept. 24, 2021. (Yonhap)

A shopper purchases groceries at a supermarket in Seoul on Sept. 24, 2021. (Yonhap)

Department stores saw their sales jump 13 percent, as people purchased more home appliances and luxury brands. Local sales of imported luxury products have been rising sharply amid the pandemic due to revenge shopping.

Revenge shopping occurs when consumers seek to find comfort in purchasing goods amid restricted social activities and travel.

Convenience stores also saw their sales rise 4.5 percent on the back of robust demand for beverage products amid the scorching summer heat.

Sales from supermarkets, on the other hand, dropped 5.5 percent as more South Koreans purchased daily necessities online amid the pandemic.

Online retail platforms saw their sales advance 11.1 percent on-year in August, as more South Koreans got accustomed to buying groceries from home.

Sales of groceries from such platforms moved up 28.2 percent. The service sector, which includes food delivery, also saw its sales jump 17 percent.

The greater Seoul area has been under Level 4 distancing measures, the highest in the country’s four-tier system, since July, with most other areas being under Level 3.