|Coupang deliveryman pose for picture in this 2016 file photo. / Courtesy of Coupang|
By Kim Jae-heun
As the number of patients infected with the new coronavirus here has continued to rise precipitously to 556 as of Sunday, society's consumption patterns ― ranging from hobbies to dining ― have changed drastically.
A majority of customers have shifted from offline to shop online instead of visiting department stores or supermarkets. Additionally, demand for health and hygiene products is beating out that for cosmetics or fashion. The outbreak has convinced more and more people to do everything at home from exercising to drinking.
With the number of patients confirmed to have the virus soared last week, services delivering fresh food for the country's largest online retailer Coupang closed early after the company ran out of stock.
Coupang's other service of transporting daily needs and shopping items to customers is facing delays being as there are not enough delivery men to cover the volume of orders. The e-commerce company saw a record high delivery total of 3.3 million items in just one day, Jan. 28.
Another online retailor E-Mart's SSG.com also saw a 20 percent increase in online orders that ended up closing its delivery service until today. The company said sales of food skyrocketed by 98 percent thanks to a 96 percent soar in purchases of mineral water and a 75 percent increase for vegetables.
The sales of everyday food at G market between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20 rose 150 percent ― when the first fatality from the infection was reported Thursday, sales of instant noodle, canned food and instant rice increased by 80 percent, 72 percent and 654 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, many brick and mortar stores closed temporarily with some doing so after they were reportedly visited by people later confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 (2019-nCoV).
Lotte Shopping will launched a new online mall combining all its subsidiary platforms under the name "Lotte ON." Homeplus has increased the number of its delivery vehicles by 15 percent to cope with a 127 percent surge in online shopping demand from customer.
TV home-shopping channels have seen sales of fashion and cosmetic products drop by 31.6 percent, pushing them outside the top 10 bests sellers list as they were replaced with health and hygiene products.
Lotte Homeshopping witnessed a 137 percent increase in orders for dietary supplements including vitamin tablets, red ginseng and propolis.
Sales of "functional food" at Lotte Shopping's health and beauty store Lohb from Jan. 27 to Feb. 11 skyrocketed 579 percent compared to that in the same period of 2019.
The spread of COVID-19 has also changed drinking trends here.
People have begun to drink at home instead of going to a bar, leading to increased sales of alcoholic beverages at convenience stores along with sidedishes.
Sales of soju, a Korean distilled spirit, and beer at convenience store chain GS25 grew 29.2 percent and 23.8 percent, respectively, between Feb. 7 and 13.
The sales of frozen, refrigerated and dried snacks jumped 39.1 percent, 34.5 percent and 26.5 percent, respectively.
The convenience stores said the increasing number of single person households plus the spread of the new coronavirus has discouraged many customers from dining or drinking outside.
The number of moviegoers recorded its lowest since 2013 in last month. According to the Korean Film Council, the film audience in January fell to 16.84 million, down 7 percent compared to that of January last year.
Meanwhile, livestreaming on mobile platforms that provide movie and television series has increased by 20 percent on "Seezn" operated by KT, the country's second largest telecommunications company.