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Retail sales up 18.5% in March on spring promotions, revenge shopping

This photo, taken April 11, 2021, shows a sign put up at a department store in Seoul that asks shoppers to wear protective masks. (Yonhap)
This photo, taken April 11, 2021, shows a sign put up at a department store in Seoul that asks shoppers to wear protective masks. (Yonhap)
Retail sales in South Korea jumped 18.5 percent in March from a year earlier on the back of seasonal promotions by offline stores, with local consumers also turning to "revenge shopping" amid the prolonged virus pandemic.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 13.1 trillion won ($11.7 billion) last month, up from 11.1 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Sales from offline stores jumped 21.7 percent as people purchased more luxury goods instead of spending vacations overseas amid no signs of a letup in the number of local COVID-19 cases.

South Korea reported 512 additional virus cases Tuesday, raising the total number of cases to 119,898.

Revenge shopping occurs when consumers seek to find comfort in purchasing goods amid restricted social activities and travel.

The sharp rebound from offline stores also came on a base effect, as their sales crashed 17.6 percent on-year in March 2020 amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic here.

Department stores saw their sales rise a whopping 77.6 percent, with those of imported luxury goods rising 89 percent on-year.

Convenience stores also saw their sales advance 10.7 percent, led by strong demand for processed foodstuffs. Sales from hypermarkets edged up 2.1 percent on the back of clothes and sports equipment.

Online stores also maintained solid growth in their sales, which advanced 15.2 percent over the period.

Sales of fashion items and cosmetics increased 26.1 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively, on-year in March, as more people enjoyed outdoor activities amid warm weather.

As more people returned to offline shopping, however, sales of children products slipped 13.1 percent.

Combined retail sales in South Korea rose 5.5 percent on-year in 2020. (Yonhap)
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