Elderly Embrace Online Shopping Amid Coronavirus Scare

  • By Ahn Sang-hyun

    February 15, 2020 08:29

    Older Koreans have embraced online shopping as the coronavirus scare keeps people at home.

    The elderly had embraced the Internet to some extent but preferred to do their shopping in person, but now that is changing as offline stores run out of masks, hand sanitizer and other necessities and some closed for quarantine.

    According to online retailer 11st early this week, purchases by consumers in their 50s in late January surged 68 percent compared to the same period of last year and among consumers in their 60s 48 percent. In contrast, purchases by people in their 20s grew only 27 percent and among 30-somethings 38 percent. Even among people in their 70s, purchases rose 21 percent.

    "Until 2015, consumers over 40 accounted for only 36.5 percent of total online purchases, but that has risen to more than half as more middle-aged and senior citizens turned to online shopping," a 11st staffer said.

    Masks and hand sanitizer were the most popular products among customers over 40 at online shopping mall TMON. "Senior citizens consider the transaction process an entry barrier, but it looks like more people have overcome it due to the outbreak," a TMON staffer said.

    There are clear differences in the kinds of products older and younger customers buy. According to 11st, beverages accounted for the biggest proportion of purchases by customers in their 20s and 30s, while people over 50 bought health supplements and fresh produce.

    An increasing reluctance to eat in restaurants has also boosted online sales to older consumers. According to SSG.com, a website run by Shinsegae, the most popular products purchased among consumers in their 40s through 60s early this month were home meal replacements, which are fully or partially prepared meals that just need to be heated up.

    Sales to customers in their 40s to 60s grew eight times compared to the same period last year. Other surges were among immune-strengthening products like red ginseng extract and other health supplements. 

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