Car sales tumbled 25 percent and department store revenue 31 percent last month against a year-ago period after the surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases dampened cold waters on consumption in Korea, report from the finance ministry showed.
“Uncertainties are growing in the Korean economy and financial market due to the spread of COVID-19,” the Ministry of Economy and Finance said Friday in its monthly economic review named Green Book, with the mention of “signs of improvement in business trend” removed from the January report.
Sales of passenger cars in the local market dropped 24.6 percent this month from the same month a year ago, the steepest fall since January 2009. Department stores posted a 30.6 percent plunge in revenue, maintaining their losing streak for three consecutive months since December. Department stores have generated losses in sales since last September, except for November when they saw a sales gain of 3.3 percent.
“The mounting concerns of COVID-19 outbreak and its aftershocks on the global economy have led to a downgrade in economic growth projections for major countries,” the ministry said. “The downward risks in the global economy are growing along with increased volatility in commodity and financial market.”
Kim Young-hoon, head of economic analysis division at the ministry, said that outdoor activities and consumption have been seriously contracted since last month when the number of confirmed cases began surging. The number of foreign visitors declined sharply and domestic auto sales fell to the level unseen since the global financial crisis, he added.
Meanwhile, the nation’s vice economic and finance minister Kim Yong-beom convened an emergency meeting with companies including HSBC Securities, Samsung Life Insurance, Mirae Asset Daewoo, Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor on Friday to discuss measures to minimize negative impacts of the virus on the financial markets. He vowed to strengthen monitoring for financial system and enhance communications with the private sector to implement necessary measures timely.
By Lee Ji-yong and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]