Pandemic Shoppers Stick with Tried and Tested

      July 16, 2021 08:49

      Lockdown-addled consumers are favoring shops and restaurants they are familiar with instead of being tempted by novelty, credit card data suggest.

      Korea Credit Data analyzed the plastic transactions of 700,000 businesses and found that spending at newly opened stores declined 27.7 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the carefree first quarter of 2019. But in stores they had already visited in the past year, purchases declined only 8.7 percent.

      Consumers in big cities were even less adventurous than their provincial cousins. Seoul saw the biggest dip in purchases in new stores at 31.8 percent, followed by Ulsan (31.2 percent), South Gyeongsang Province (30.9 percent) and Busan (29.7 percent).

      The main reason is that lockdown offered fewer opportunities for window shopping and leisurely exploration.

      The coronavirus pandemic also reduced the distances consumers traveled. Big data analysis by Shinhan Card last November showed consumers traveled 140.7 km on average, down 25 percent on-year, which proved a boon for neighborhood convenience stores and other businesses compared to their peers in the deserted commercial districts.

      Sales almost halved in Seoul's trendy Hongik University area, Itaewon and Gangnam commercial districts as well as the tourist magnets of Myeong-dong, Insa-dong and Samgcheong-dong. But convenience stores' in the residential neighborhoods of Sanggye-dong and Haebangcheon, for example, rose 8.6 percent and 0.8 percent.

      Lee Eun-hee at Inha University said, "During the pandemic, newly opened shops or restaurants or those who failed to secure a solid base of regulars ended up having a tough time."

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