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Mini-marts booming as demographics shift

May 20,2009
More new convenience stores opened in Korea last year than ever before, the Korea Association of Convenience Stores said yesterday.

The association has six member chains, including Mini Stop, Buy the Way, Family Mart and GS25.

The number of stores jumped 12.9 percent to 2,209 in 2008, compared with growth of 11.4 percent to 1,429 stores in 2007.

There were 12,485 convenience stores across the country at the end of 2008, which meant there was at least one branch for every 4,000 people.

Overall sales also increased last year, to 6.5 trillion won ($5.2 billion), a 16.7 percent jump from 2007.

The association credited the rise in the number of branches to corporate layoffs in recent years, which left more businesspeople ready to start their own franchises.

Seeming to back up that conclusion was the average age of store managers, which has risen. The number of store managers who were university graduates or female also increased.

The percentage of store managers who were female rose 0.8 percentage point last year from 2007, bringing women up to 43.9 percent of all convenience store heads.

Ten years ago, only 15 percent of store managers were female, while in 2003 that figure had increased to 27.7 percent.

“The local convenience store market has entered a mature stage,” said Lee Deok-woo, a spokesperson for the association, who added that he anticipates some 20,000 convenience stores will be operating here by 2015.

All of the nation’s 232 cities, counties and districts have convenience stores. There are even two on Ulleung Island in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

“There will be more Koreans buying retail goods at convenience stores,” said Lee, citing an increase in the number of single-member households.


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]



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