SEOUL, July 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's department store sales accelerated to a more than five year high in June, trade ministry data showed on Thursday, thanks to a weak comparison base stemming from last year's Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.
Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co were estimated to have jumped 11.8 percent from a year earlier, the trade ministry said, which would mark the sharpest gain since a 15.1 percent spike in April 2011.
This far eclipsed the 2.7 percent decline in May and compared to an 11.9 percent drop in June last year when the MERS outbreak peaked and kept shoppers away from crowded areas like department stores and malls.
The same data showed discount store sales in June rose just 0.9 percent from a year earlier, rebounding modestly from a 6.3 percent fall in May.
At discount stores, demand for outdoor goods and apparel rose compared with last year, but sales were capped on the lower popularity of face masks and sanitisers, which were snapped up during the MERS outbreak.
Meanwhile, sales at online social commerce websites like Coupang (www.coupang.co.kr) and Ticketmonster (www.ticketmonster.co.kr) rose 10.1 percent in June on-year, slowing from 23.9 percent in May.
Online open market sales at websites owned by eBay Korea Co Ltd and others gained 17.1 percent over a year earlier in June, compared to a 25.9 percent rise in May.
The trade ministry said it would start providing breakdowns of online sales data starting this month as South Koreans increasingly make more purchases of goods over the internet. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes)