Online Sales Surge Amid Coronavirus Scare

  • By Kim Bong-kee, Han Kyeong-jin, Ahn Sang-hyun

    February 03, 2020 13:26

    Online shopping and other orders are surging as panicked Koreans hunker down to sit out the coronavirus scare.

    People are avoiding going out and trying to minimize contact with others as the virus can be transmitted through person-to-person contact.

    Online sales of daily necessities from rice and bottled water to diapers soared a whopping 104 percent on average on-month between Jan. 27, when Korea reported its fourth case of coronavirus infection, and Feb. 1, according to online shopping mall 11Street on Sunday.

    Sales of wet wipes to keep surfaces antiseptic jumped 215 percent, followed by instant noodles (129 percent), bottled water (116 percent), instant rice (58 percent), fresh foods (46 percent), and rice (42 percent).

    Sales of surgical masks skyrocketed to the tune of a staggering 37,170 percent. Among other sanitary products, hand wash soap soared 6,679 percent, protective goggles 661 percent and "antiviral" tissues 343 percent.

    Also pouring in are orders for covers for baby carriages (31 percent) and even strollers for pet dogs (56 percent) as well as for health supplements that can help boost the immune system.

    More consumers are ordering food deliveries. According to food delivery app Baedal Minjok, a total of 1.66 million orders were placed last Saturday, some 10 percent more than usual Saturday average.

    Offline shopping suffered apace. People are avoiding department stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, bars, hairdressers and hotels.

    The worst hit are the restaurants, franchise outlets, cinemas, and supermarkets that had reportedly been visited by infected patients. Some of them have been forced to suspend business, including the CJ CGV theater near Sungshin Women's University in Seoul; E-Mart in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province; E-Mart in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province; Shilla Duty-Free Shop in Seoul; and Lotte Duty-Free Shop and Shilla Duty-Free Shop in Jeju.

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