SEOUL, May 6 (Yonhap) — Online shopping surged nearly 12 percent from a year earlier in March, data showed Wednesday, an apparent outcome of the new coronavirus outbreak that forced people to stay home.
The value of online transactions came to about 12.58 trillion won (US$10.3 billion) in the month, up 11.8 percent from the same month last year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
The increase followed a 24.5 percent on-year spike the previous month.’
The sharp increase in March was largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced citizens to use offline shops.
Under its social distancing campaign, launched in early March, the Seoul government forced all public facilities to temporarily shut down while also advising all major private institutions to do so as well.
Some of the restrictions under the nationwide campaign were removed or eased as of Wednesday, as the number of daily infection cases here dropped sharply since late April, with fewer than 10 new cases reported per day over the last six days.
“With a change in the means of consumption caused by the new coronavirus outbreak, online sales of fresh foodstuffs, make-ready meals and food deliveries increased,” the statistics office noted.
Online sales of daily necessities, including sanitizers and detergent products, spiked 46.9 percent on-year to 1.24 trillion won.
Online purchases for offline activities, on the other hand, dropped sharply, with purchases for cultural events and tourism programs plunging 88.9 percent and 73.4 percent on-year, respectively.
Purchases made through mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, surged 19.2 percent on-year to some 8.47 trillion won in March, accounting for 67.3 percent of overall online shopping.
Meanwhile, online overseas sales of South Korean products came to about 1.48 trillion won in the first three months of the year, up 18.8 percent from the same period last year, according to the statistics office.
Online overseas purchases made here came to some 979 billion won over the cited period, up 8.1 percent from a year earlier, it said.