SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) — A majority of South Korean retailers expect their business conditions to worsen slightly in the first quarter of 2021 than three months earlier amid the coronavirus pandemic, a poll showed Wednesday.

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry said its retail business survey index (RBSI) stood at 84 for the January-March period of the year, down from 85 three months earlier.

The figure is based on a poll of some 1,000 retail businesses across the nation. A reading below 100 means that pessimists outnumber optimists.

Internet-based retailers were optimistic about their business outlook for the current quarter thanks to increasing “untact” consumption.

The RBSI for internet shopping malls and home shopping channels came to 114 for the first quarter, up from 108 for the fourth quarter of last year.

Offline retailers, however, were downbeat. The index for department stores came to 98, with the number reaching 65 for supermarkets, 43 for large discounters and 61 for convenience stores.

In particular, the reading for big discounters was the lowest ever and down 11 points from three months earlier as they were pessimistic due to the coronavirus impact and greater competition, according to the findings.

This undated file photo shows the main outlet of Lotte Department Store in central Seoul. (Yonhap)