China outspends Korea online

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China outspends Korea online

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Despite the recent political estrangement between Korea and China over the deployment of the Thaad missile defense system, Chinese consumers continued to purchase Korean cosmetics on online portals.

Overseas consumers purchased 551.2 billion won ($479.6 million) worth of Korean products online in the third quarter of this year, a 105.4 percent surge compared to the previous year, the government said on Wednesday.

Purchases made by foreigners living overseas exceeded Koreans’ purchasing from foreign online retailers for the first time in the first quarter of this year and the gap continues to widen. Although Korean consumers’ online purchases increased to 447.3 billion won in the third quarter, the growth rate was only 15 percent.

“Sales of cosmetics jumped 22.8 percent year on year to 407.7 billion won in the third quarter and the purchases made by China and the United States rose significantly from the past,” said Sohn Eun-rak, a director at Statistics Korea.

“Three major local duty-free stores, which include Hanwha, Shilla and Shinsegae, have opened up online stores this year, and it helped transactions grow significantly as well.”

Purchases made by Chinese consumers jumped 151.7 percent to 437.1 billion won, and U.S. consumer purchases rose 21.8 percent to 34.9 billion won. Chinese consumers accounted for 79.3 percent of the total purchases made by foreigners.

Sohn also noted that there were more Chinese tourists who visited the country this year.

Even though they purchase through their smartphones while they are in Korea, the transactions count as overseas purchases since they are taking the goods back to their home country, Sohn added.

The number of Chinese tourists who visited Korea rose 118.5 percent year on year or from 999,000 in the third quarter of last year to 2.18 million this year.

Koreans purchased most foreign goods from U.S.-based online retailers, and they accounted for 63 percent of total foreign direct purchases made in the third quarter.

It was followed by European Union countries with 19.5 percent and China with 9.3 percent.

Overall online shopping transactions continued to expand, and the government’s data showed that more people are buying cosmetics, food and travel and reservation services online.

According to Statistics Korea, overall online transaction volume rose 22.1 percent year on year to 16.47 trillion won in the third quarter and those made through mobile devices jumped 42.6 percent to 8.8 trillion won.

Sales of cosmetics at local online retailers expanded 55.4 percent year on year while food purchases grew 34.6 percent and travel and reservation services rose 15.2 percent.

The statistics agency surveyed 983 online retailers that have yearly transactions exceeding 12 million won.


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

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