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COVID-19 shaking up South Korean economy Updated: 2020-02-18 16:44:41 KST

Fear of the novel coronavirus is having a negative impact on consumerism.
People are shunning outdoor events,. and consumer spending at restaurants, in hotels and at entertainment venues has plunged.

"We're located near a university, so many workers and students come during the school vacations. But it's been almost empty these days."

"Flower businesses have taken a direct hit. Schools nationwide have postponed or cancelled their graduation or entrance ceremonies amid coronavirus fears dragging down the demand for flowers."

"Our sales fell to one-third of our usual levels, maybe even more. I've been in this business for more than fifteen years, but this is the first time I've had a Valentine's Day as quiet as this year's."

A recent survey shows nearly 98 percent of small business owners have suffered losses in sales revenue since the virus outbreak.
More than two-thirds said that they've seen a significant decrease, and one-third said that their sales have fallen.

South Korea's tourism and aviation sectors have also suffered the worst economic fallout in years.
Reports say more than 80 percent of flights to China have been halted or cut due to concerns over the deadly virus.

But a lack of participation in outdoor activities has led to a boost in online spending.
Online credit card spending by consumers in South Korea rose quickly in the week that followed the Lunar New Year holiday, when the virus started to spread.
The total was up 44.5 percent compared to the week that followed the holiday last year.

One online food delivery service says they saw around a 12-percent increase on-month in weekend orders.

"Especially with people trying to avoid contact, the number of customers requesting for their food to be left in front of their door increased by 20 percent in February."

Fear of the virus is raising uncertainty in the economy, and in order to minimize the negative impact, expert says it's important to resolve this 'fear factor'.

"Fears of the coronavirus may be causing consumption to shrink excessively. The government's utmost priority should be to take measures that gain people's trust and reduce anxiety."

The expert also added that the government should avoid any political propaganda activities that could create excessive anxiety.
Kim Jae-hee, Arirang News.
Reporter : jhee@arirang.com
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