Coronavirus accelerates migration to online shopping in Korea

2020.02.11 15:10:54

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The coronavirus outbreak has kept more Koreans indoors, giving more traction to online and mobile shopping for grocery, food deliveries and other everyday necessities.

Eight credit card companies in Korea showed Tuesday that online transactions totaled 2.51 trillion won ($2.12 billion) in the Jan. 28-Feb. 3 week following the Lunar New Holiday, up 44.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Offline payments rose 9.3 percent to 9.05 trillion won during the same period.

The coronavirus from China started spreading rapidly in South Korea before and after the holidays in late January, with the first confirmed case reported on Jan. 20. As of Tuesday, the number of infections has surged to 28. Four patients have since been discharged from hospitals upon full recovery.

Some retailers, cinemas and restaurants have promptly shut down for disinfection after reports that some of the infected people had visited there.

Offline sales at Lotte Department Store fell 11 percent in the first weekend of February compared with the year-ago period. Its store in Myeong-dong, a busy shopping district in Seoul, saw sales plummet 30 percent. The Myeong-dong outlet later closed temporarily for a cleanup after a Chinese tourist was found to have visited the store before she was diagnosed with the virus.

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]이미지 확대

[Photo by Lee Seung-hwan]

Meanwhile, online sales at Lotte’s supermarket chain Lotte Mart reported a 51.4 percent jump in the Jan. 27-Feb. 3 period from the same period a year ago.

Deliveries at Korea’s No. 1 food delivery app Baedal Minjok rose 11.3 percent in Jan. 31-Feb. 2 from a month earlier. Another app Yogiyo also saw deliveries surge 18 percent.

The virus does not appear to have dampened overall consumption. Total credit card transactions came to 11.6 trillion won, up 15.4 percent from a year earlier.

One credit card industry source said online sales have consistently been on the rise, but the recent 45 percent spike is unusual. While it’s hard to clearly estimate the virus’s impact because of the holiday season, an extended outbreak could take a hit on overall sales, the source added.

By Pulse

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