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Retail sales up 9.1% in Feb. amid virus pandemic

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Retail sales in South Korea rose 9.1 percent in February from a year earlier as more people purchased daily necessities through online platforms amid the spread of the new coronavirus here, data showed Monday.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 10.6 trillion won ($8.68 billion) last month, compared with 9.71 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The sharp increase came as online stores enjoyed a whopping 34.3 percent jump in their sales as South Koreans refrained from visiting crowded places or having face-to-face contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It marked the steepest on-year increase since the ministry started compiling such data in June 2016.

Sales of foodstuffs from the online platform nearly doubled over the period, with shipments of household products, including sanitary items, also soaring 44.5 percent, the data showed.

Offline retailers, on the other hand, saw their sales drop 7.5 percent amid South Korea's drive to promote social distancing to curb the spread of the novel virus here.

Department stores especially suffered, experiencing a 21.4 percent drop in their sales on weak demand for fashion items.

Local convenience stores saw their sales increase 7.8 percent as people purchased more daily necessities, including pharmaceuticals.

In 2019, retail sales in South Korea moved up 4.8 percent on-year. Revenue at online shopping malls advanced 14.2 percent, while that of offline stores shed 0.9 percent over the period.

As of Sunday, South Korea had confirmed more than 9,500 cases of infections in the country. (Yonhap)

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