Koreans buy more goods from foreign online shops

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Koreans buy more goods from foreign online shops

As consumer prices continue to rise in the country, more Koreans purchased goods from foreign online retailers last year, a recent study shows.

Koreans purchased $1.63 billion in products from foreign online retailers last year, an increase of 7 percent, the Korea Customs Service said Thursday. Purchases jumped 49 percent year on year in 2014 but fell 1 percent in 2015. This was the first time in two years that online purchases rose when compared to the previous year.

“Foreign direct purchases have gone up mainly as there are more people shopping from Chinese and European online retailers, while there were many buying goods from U.S.-based retailers in the past,” said Kim Hee-ree, a director at the Korea Customs Service. “The consumer prices in Korea have risen and it appears that many are finding foreign online retailers for more reasonable prices.”

U.S.-based online retailers accounted for 65 percent of Koreans’ foreign purchases, followed by European companies at 15 percent and Chinese retailers at 8 percent. The customs agency said the share of the U.S.-based online retailers has decreased from 75 percent in 2013 to 65 percent last year, while the figure for European companies rose 7 percent to 15 percent in the same period.

Chinese online retailers accounted for 5 percent of the total purchases in 2015 but rose to 8 percent last year.

“The figure for China has jumped recently as there were more people buying small electronics products such as portable battery chargers from China,” said Kim. “Demands for foreign electronics products have gone up as Chinese manufacturers’ technologies improved and as they offer products at relatively cheaper or reasonable prices.”

By type of products, health-related products accounted for 20 percent of total goods purchased abroad by Koreans and were followed by cosmetics at 16 percent and food-related products at 14 percent. The government said the number of people purchasing electronics products rose 177 percent year on year from 424,000 transactions in 2015 to 1.17 million last year.

Koreans shopped for health-related products from the United States and cosmetics from European companies. China was popular for electronics and consumers purchased candy and chocolates most from Japan.


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