Fashion sales surge last year as Koreans get ready to go out

The bestselling item among semi-durables last year was bags, which saw sales jump 38.1% from the year before.

Kim So-hyun

Kim So-hyun

The Korea Herald



February 8, 2022

SEOUL – Having spent mostly on furniture, home appliances and cars in the first year of the pandemic, consumers bought more bags and clothes last year, apparently getting ready to go out, statistics showed.

Business has been good for furniture and home appliance companies for the past two years as COVID-19 persisted, keeping people at home. Meanwhile, shoe shops continued to see sluggish sales.

The retail sales index rose 5.5 percent last year, compared to 2020, meaning that the amount of goods sold to end consumers increased 5.5 percent, Statistics Korea said.

Sales of semi-durable products such as clothes and bags, which can be used for more than a year but are relatively cheaper than durables, increased 12.4 percent last year, marking the sharpest growth in 22 years since 1999.

This is largely because sales of semi-durables dipped 12.6 percent in 2020, compared to the previous year.

In short, consumers last year went ahead with spending on clothes and bags which they had put off in the first year of the pandemic.

The bestselling item among semi-durables last year was bags, which saw sales jump 38.1 percent from the year before.

This is also mainly because sales of bags plunged 32.1 percent in 2020.

Sales of clothing, which had declined 17.4 percent in 2020, climbed 15 percent last year as people who stayed longer hours at home due to the pandemic began to get ready to go out more.

Sales of durable goods showed slowed growth compared to 2020, but remained moderate.

Passenger car sales, which had surged 16.3 percent in 2020, dropped slightly by 0.3 percent.

Sales of home appliances jumped 21.2 percent in 2020, and grew another 9.5 percent last year.

Furniture sales also rose another 5 percent last year, after having increased 21.2 percent in 2020.

Sales of shoes, however, plunged 20.6 percent in 2020 and fell another 2.2 percent last year.

“Consumption of semi-durable goods increased towards the end of the year, and last year was largely a good year in terms of sales of durables as well,” an official at Statistics Korea said.

“People went out more, but still less than they did before the pandemic, so sales of semi-durables like shoes didn’t pick up.”

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