COVID-19 accelerates sales of S. Korea's online grocery products and food delivery services

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : February 7, 2022, 11:15 Updated : June 23, 2023, 01:21

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SEOUL -- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea's online shopping sales of food and grocery products surpassed 2.2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) only in December 2021, up 11.2 percent from a year ago. A total online shopping transaction amount exceeded 18 trillion won and mobile transactions accounted for 73.9 percent of the total online shopping sales.
According to Statistics Korea, the national statistical office, the online shopping transaction amount reached 18.4 trillion won and mobile shopping transactions reached 13 trillion won in December 2021. "We predict that the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated online sales of food and grocery products and food delivery services," a Statistics Korea official told Aju Business Daily on February 7. While online transactions of food and grocery products increased by 11.2 percent in December 2021 from the same period a year ago, cosmetics products decreased by 12.1 percent.
Currently, South Korea regulates the number of private gatherings to six people each. All restaurants, bars and coffee shops must close at 9 p.m. but food takeaways and deliveries are not regulated. The annual number of passengers using subway trains in Seoul has decreased by about 27 percent in 2021 from 2019 due to the nationwide social distancing campaign that prompted some 1.14 million people to work remotely at home.
The average monthly sales of domestic restaurants in 2020 fell 16.5 percent from a year ago to 27.3 million won. Some 17.3 trillion worth of transactions were made via online delivery services in 2020, up 78.6 percent from 9.7 trillion won a year ago. South Korea's delivery food services market reached 23 trillion won in 2020.
Overnight delivery services became popular in South Korea in 2020 when people shopped online instead of visiting crowded shopping malls to prevent COVID-19 infection. When a customer makes an overnight delivery order, the item can be delivered quickly from a nearby logistics warehouse. According to a survey of 1,169 online shopping service users, conducted by the Korea Information Society Development Institute in 2019, fresh and frozen foods were the most popular items. 
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