SEOUL -- The social distancing campaign prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a sudden boost in online sales of Makgeolli, Korean rice beer.
Makgeolli, also known as Korean rice wine or Korean rice beer, is a milky white-colored alcoholic beverage normally made with rice using the traditional Korean fermentation method. It is favored by drinkers aged more than 40. To promote sales of traditional alcoholic drinks, South Korea has allowed local breweries to sell traditional alcoholic drinks and liquor through online stores in 2017.
Gmarket, a major online shopping mall operated by eBay Korea, said on July 31 that sales of Makgeolli in the first half of this year have increased by 384 percent compared to the same period last year. The overall online sales of traditional Korean alcoholic drinks have increased by 177 percent compared to the same period last year.
Gmarket said customers in their 50s and 60s were the main consumer group who bought Makgeolli via its online stores. Purchases made by customers in their 50s and 60s in the first half of this year have increased by 196 percent and 199 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.
The online shopping mall giant analyzed that consumers have chosen to buy alcoholic drinks at online stores instead of visiting offline supermarkets and shopping malls to avoid being infected by a coronavirus.
When COVID-19 began to spread in South Korea in late February, a nationwide social distancing campaign led by the government was launched. South Korean health officials have strongly urged people to avoid visiting crowded areas such as shopping malls, movie theaters, sports centers and restaurants.
The change in people's lives was reflected in increased sales of online shopping services. Sales of Coupang, a South Korean version of Amazon, in May have increased 13.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
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