SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) — Retail sales in South Korea rose 6 percent in January from a year earlier as more consumers purchased daily necessities from online stores, with the demand for gift items ahead of the Lunar New Year’s holiday also bolstering the sales, data showed Thursday.

The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 12.5 trillion won (US$11.2 billion) last month, up from 11.7 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Online stores led the growth, with their sales jumping 22.6 percent on-year.’

The demand for agricultural goods and processed foodstuffs from online shops especially rose 49 percent as people shopped early for the holiday, which ran from Feb. 11 to 13.

With more people working from home, the demand for home appliances and electronics goods shot up 43.3 percent over the period, with those of furniture gaining 22.1 percent.

The prolonged virus pandemic, however, led to a 14.2 percent drop in the sale of travel packages and concert tickets.

Sales from offline stores lost 5.8 percent amid the country’s enhanced social distancing scheme to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Convenience stores were the sole winners, with their sales rising 2.4 percent on-year in January, led mostly by the stronger demand for ready-to-eat meals.

Sales from supermarkets and department stores, on the other hand, fell 11.7 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.

The combined retail sales in South Korea rose 5.5 percent on-year in 2020.