Sales of major South Korean retailers soared in January from a year earlier on strong sales by convenience stores and big chain supermarkets, government data showed Monday.
The combined sales of department stores, large outlets and online malls gained 8.3 percent last month, snapping a three straight monthly drop since October last year, according to the data by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The ministry said the growth in sales was driven by brisk sales of convenience stores and large retail outlets, largely due to soaring demand during the Lunar New Year holiday that fell in late January.
Sales by convenience stores surged 15.5 percent on-year last month, followed by those of big supermarkets that posted an 11.3 percent on-year gain. Department stores also saw their sales rise 4.6 percent in January from a year ago.
The increase in the number of so-called "lone diners," which refer to those who prefer to live and eat alone, has in part fueled the sales of premade meals sold at convenience stores and frozen dishes available at supermarkets, the ministry said.
Convenience stores saw their sales of instant meals such as microwavable lunch boxes hike 35.1 percent on-year in January, with their number of new stores also growing by 13.3 percent in the same period.
Also, food sales by big supermarket chains drove the overall growth, which gained 18.5 percent on-year last month, the ministry said.
In contrast, the sales of online social commerce sites inched down 0.1 percent on-year in January, largely due to increased marketing costs amid fierce competition. Online retailers overall saw their combined sales gain 6 percent last month from a year earlier, according to the data. (Yonhap)