SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- Retail sales in South Korea rose 6.6 percent in January from a year earlier mainly on demand for holiday gifts, data showed Thursday, along with the growing popularity of sanitation products amid the spread of the new coronavirus around the globe.
The combined sales of 26 major offline and online retailers reached 11.73 trillion won (US$9.65 billion) last month, compared with 11.01 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Local online stores and marketplaces enjoyed growth of 10.2 percent following a sharp increase in demand for holiday gifts including agricultural products, the data showed.
Lunar New Year's Day is one of the largest holidays in South Korea. This year's holiday was Jan. 24-27.
The increase was also led by a slight increase in demand for sanitary products, including protective masks and hand sanitizer, amid the growing concern over the spread of the new coronavirus around the globe.
The number of people infected with the virus soared to 1,261 on Wednesday. South Korea confirmed its first new coronavirus case on Jan. 20 in a Chinese woman from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.
Sales of products related to outdoor activities and clothes lost ground on online platforms due to the spread of COVID-19.
Thirteen offline retailers, including department stores and discount chains, saw their sales edge up 4.1 percent, also led mainly by holiday gifts.
In 2019, retail sales in South Korea moved up 4.8 percent on-year. Revenue at shopping websites advanced 14.2 percent, while that of offline stores shed 0.9 percent over the period.
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