Coronavirus drives up online food purchases
As more people opted to cook their meals in lieu of eating out during the coronavirus outbreak, online sales of produce and other foods saw a predictable rise in March, according to a report released Wednesday by Statistics Korea.
Overall, online transactions grew to 12.6 trillion won ($10.3 billion) in March, an 11.8 percent increase from March 2019. Food and beverage orders, which accounted for 13 percent of all purchases, surged 59.4 percent to 1.64 trillion won.
Orders for agricultural, livestock and fishery products increased nearly 92 percent, to 510.1 billion won.
Food delivery from restaurants surged 75.8 percent year-on-year.
Purchases of home products, including tissue paper rolls and detergent, increased by 46.9 percent.
Orders of laptop computers and tablet PCs, along with related equipment, rose 30.1 percent, coinciding with the increase in telecommuting and schools shifting to online classes.
Meanwhile, online spending on culture and leisure goods and services, such as movie tickets, plummeted 88.9 percent. Travel and transportation purchases tumbled 73.4 percent.
The statistics agency’s study found that 67.3 percent of online orders were placed via smartphone or tablet PC. In March 2019, mobile devices accounted for 63.1 percent of the total.
In the first quarter, Korean shoppers purchased 979.3 billion won of goods via overseas e-commerce platforms, a 8.1 percent increase on year. Purchases from U.S. e-commerce companies accounted for 49.4 percent of overseas purchases, followed by 29 percent from the European Union. China came in third at 14.4 percent, and purchases from Japan accounted for 5.1 percent.
Purchases made in U.S. e-commerce platforms increased 9.8 percent while those from Europe surged 29 percent. Purchases from Chinese websites tumbled 17.3 percent.
The most popular items bought by Koreans from overseas were clothing and fashion items, which increased 12.2 percent on year to 378.3 billion won. Food and beverage purchases from overseas which grew 30.3 percent to 271.9 billion won.
Koreans sold nearly 1.5 trillion won worth of goods overseas via online shopping, up 18.8 percent from a year earlier.
China was the biggest buyer, purchasing 1.32 trillion won of Korean goods. Southeast Asian countries purchased 47.5 billion won worth of goods, while U.S. consumers purchased 38.5 billion won.
The most popular Korean products were cosmetics, which increased 24.8 percent to nearly 1.3 trillion won. Clothing and fashion items, the second most purchased Korean goods from overseas buyers, fell 31.2 percent on year.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]