Shoppers visit Lotte Department Store in Seoul. As the new cases of the novel coronavirus stabilize, more people visit department stores to buy products. Photo courtesy of Lotte Department Store

Lotte Department Store, South Korea’s business bellwether, announced Thursday that its sales turned around in March as the new cases of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus stabilized.

The Seoul-based outfit saw its turnover jump 30.9 percent during the first week of March from a week ago. During the following weeks, the growth continued at 11.6 percent, 5.1 percent, and 12.1 percent, respectively.

The better-than-expected results are compared to late February when sales dipped more than 20 percent week-on-week.

Other major department stores like Hyundai and Shinsegae have yet to disclose their performances in March. They are also expected to have experienced a rebound.

Customers seem to worry less about the coronavirus as the new infections decreased,” a Lotte official told UPI News Korea. “People are buying clothes in time with spring.”

However, the official said that the department store has yet to fully recover as its March sales were still 34.1 percent less than last year.

South Korea was one of the early victims of COVID-19, together with China, where the outbreak started last December.

In late February, the country struggled to deal with the rising number of new infections, which neared 1,000 a day.

Yet, the figure has been on the slide in March to stabilize at around 100 cases per day, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The pandemic prompted people to buy online, thus making offline stores falter.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Monday that the country’s retailers enjoyed 9.1 percent growth in February sales from a year before.

Online companies’ turnovers rocketed 34.3 percent year-on-year, while those of offline players went down 7.5 percent. In particular, department stores suffered the biggest slump.


This article is provided by UPI News Korea. _ ED.