[Photo by Yonhap]
South Korean consumption on alcohol and tobacco hit a record high in the year when livelihood and jobs were battered by virus outbreak.
Household spending in alcohol and tobacco totaled 4.3 trillion won ($3.96 billion) in the third quarter of 2020, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Tuesday. This was the highest since the central bank started compiling related data in 1970.
Spending in both items began rising from the beginning of the year. The combined spend was 4.16 trillion won in the first quarter, the highest quarterly figure since the fourth quarter of 2017 (4.2 trillion won) and the first quarter of 2016 (4.18 trillion won).
Spending continued to climb, reaching 4.18 trillion won in the second quarter and hitting an all-time high in the third.
Consumption of alcohol and tobacco rose 6.2 percent in the third quarter from a year ago, rising by the fastest since the second quarter of 2016 when it grew 6.5 percent.
A similar pattern occurred during the 1997 Asian financial crisis when spending in alcohol and cigarettes surged 20.0 percent in the first quarter of that year from the year-ago period. Spending rose another 18.6 percent in the second quarter.
The latest BOK data was in line with the latest Statistics Korea figures. Monthly household expenditure in alcohol and tobacco in the third quarter of 2020 averaged 42,980 won, the highest since data reporting started in 2003. Spending in alcohol was 19,651 won and cigarettes 23,329 won, both an all-time high.
Meanwhile spending in leisure activities took a big hit as many events were called off to meet social distancing guidelines.
In the third quarter, spending in entertainment, sports and culture totaled 12.4 trillion won, the smallest since the third quarter of 2012 when it reached 12.3 trillion won. This was down 24.1 percent compared with a year ago, the sharpest decline on record.
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