SEJONG, Aug. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — The ratio of mobile shopping to South Korea’s retail sales reached an all-time high in the second quarter of the year, government data showed Thursday, as more consumers are turning to smartphones and other mobile devices to buy goods.
Purchases made through smartphones and tablets surged 41.5 percent on-year to 9.4 trillion won (US$8.25 billion) in the April-June period, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
The amount accounted for 9.4 percent of the nation’s total retail sales tallied at 99.2 trillion won, which was up a mere 3.2 percent from the same period a year earlier.
The second-quarter portion represents the highest level since the first quarter of 2013, when the statistical agency began to compile related data.
The total amount of mobile transactions took up 62.1 percent of all online purchases made in the three-month period, also a record high.
South Korea has seen a spike in mobile shopping in recent years as mobile-savvy consumers are increasingly resorting to their ubiquitous smart devices instead of visiting shops in person.
“With a high smartphone penetration rate, mobile shopping has increased sharply as smartphones enable people to shop anywhere,” an agency official said. “Also responsible seem to be shopping malls’ stepped-up promotional activities.”
South Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world with one of the highest smartphone ownership rates. Eight out of 10 South Koreans use a smartphone, according to government data.
In contrast to a sharp rise in mobile shopping, department stores, large discounters and supermarkets suffered setbacks in the second quarter.
Department stores saw their second-quarter sales drop 3.2 percent from a year ago, marking the second straight quarter of decline. Growth in sales of discount chains slowed to 4.8 percent in the second quarter from 6.7 percent three months earlier, with the comparable figure for supermarkets slowing to 3.1 percent from 3.9 percent.