Korea sees steep rise in online shopping during COVID-19 pandemic

South Korean distributors saw their online revenue rise over 34% in February from a year prior due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

South Korea saw a steep rise in online shopping last month year due to more people staying indoors because of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. 

Overall revenues from 26 major distributors across the country, including companies operating outside of online shopping, rose to 10.6 trillion won in February, which was a 9.1% increase from the same month a year ago.

This was thanks to a 34.3% increase in their online revenues despite a 7.5% dip in offline sales.

Online shopping revenue took up the largest proportion of February's total revenues, accounting for 49%. This was followed by supermarket revenue which provided 17.6%, while convenience stores sales provided 16%, and department stores contributed 13%. 

Fears over contracting COVID-19 and the subsequent social distancing measures taken by government have been attributed as the reasons for the uptick in online shopping.  

Online food purchases rose 92.5% compared to the same period last year, while daily necessities -- which includes face masks -- rose 44.5% year on year. 

While online shopping vendors are experiencing stronger-than-usual sales, department stores have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as its year-on-year monthly sales dropped 21.4% in February. 

As of Monday, South Korea has 9,661 COVID-19 cases with 158 dead. The number of additional cases has dropped, but the country has continued to see cases from those arriving from abroad. A Samsung employee who returned from a two-month trip in Europe was confirmed to have contracted the virus over the weekend. They have been in self-isolation since returning to South Korea. 

While online shopping vendors in South Korea have viewed COVID-19 as a boon, the outbreak has affected the supply chains of the nation's tech powerhouses, as Samsung and LG have seen their overseas factories, such as those in India and Europe, be temporarily shut down due to mandates from local governments.


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