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Offline sales slip in February as online gets a 12-percent boost

Mar 29,2019
Online retailers enjoyed higher on-year sales last month while offline retailers underperformed. Their combined sales performance slid 0.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

According to a report from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy released Wednesday, online retailers enjoyed a 12-percent boost in sales in February, backed by strong demand for air purifiers and the start of the new school semester.

Online sales of home appliances - excluding open market platforms - shot up 62.2 percent thanks to skyrocketing demand for air purifiers to combat fine dust.

Online open market platforms such as Gmarket and Auction also saw their home appliance sales jump up 13.6 percent.

Offline stores saw sales drop 7.1 percent. Convenience stores were the only offline retailer that managed to sit in the black while the sales of the rest - discount marts, department stores and small supermarkets - pointed downward, with discount marts in the lead with a 13.7-percent drop.

The report pointed to the date of this year’s lunar new year holiday as the primary reason for offline retailers’ poor performance.

The lunar new year holiday is one of Korea’s two most lucrative seasons for offline retailers.

People in Korea usually purchase presents for their families and acquaintances in time for the lunar new year, as well as the harvest festival in the fall.

This year’s lunar new year holiday fell on Feb. 5 - two weeks earlier than the same holiday last year. This means holiday shopping was mostly taken care of in January.

Convenience stores saw their sales slightly rise, backed by increased demand for cigarettes and food and beverages like home meal replacements and imported beers.


BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]