August heat drove spike in online shopping

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August heat drove spike in online shopping

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Online shopping rose 27.3 percent year on year to 5.57 trillion won ($5.04 billion) in transactions in August, and its year-on-year growth was its highest in four and half years as people stayed home and purchased goods in an abnormally hot summer.

The amount consumers spent online on food jumped 48 percent and the number of foreigners, particularly Chinese, using Korean online retailers also increased significantly, Statistics Korea said Tuesday.

“This year’s temperature was higher than the average temperature and the data shows that more Koreans shop online when the temperature goes up since they don’t want to go outside,” said Son Eun-rak, a director at the government statistics agency. “August’s online sales also rose due to the base effect from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [MERS] that hit the country last summer.”

In August, the average temperature was 26.7 degrees Celsius (80.06 degrees Fahrenheit), the government said, which is 1.6 degrees higher than the average temperature for the month. Statistics Korea also said that fewer people purchased travel and other reservation services, such as movie tickets, due to MERS last year.

Data showed that travel and reservation services’ sales rose 14.8 percent online compared to the previous year and the food sales increased 48 percent. Online sales of home appliances, including electronics and telecommunication products, rose 39.2 percent from a year earlier. The statistics agency said the government’s decision this year to offer 10 percent rebates on energy-efficient home appliances to boost domestic consumption and the weather increased demand for summer home appliances such as air-conditioners.

Mobile shopping in August surged to 3 trillion won, a 49.6 percent jump compared to the same month last year. This was the first time sales surpassed the 3 trillion won level. Shopping on mobile devices now accounts for 54.4 percent of online shopping, also a record. Mobile shoppers accounted for only 29 percent of online shoppers in April 2014. Sales exceeded 40 percent early last year, finally surpassed 50 percent in December and continued to increase.

Data showed that 69.1 percent of online shoppers who purchased child-related goods used mobile devices, as did 65.5 percent of those who bought clothes and 65.1 percent of cosmetics buyers.

Mobile shoppers bought more items for pets, sporting goods and fashion-related items compared to the previous year, while they bought fewer agricultural products and food.

Shoppers buying goods at online-only retailers rose 17.5 percent year-on-year in August, and increased 30.5 percent for retailers with both online and brick-and-mortar stores. The statistics agency surveyed 982 online retailers that have yearly transaction volumes of more than 12 million won.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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