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Big discount chains live up to their names

Apr 09,2019
Three large discount stores are fiercely competing in order to attract consumers back from online stores. From left, a super low-priced 50-inch ultra-high definition TV designed and sold by Emart, Korean beef by Lotte Mart that is 50 percent off and a Homeplus discount event opened in March. [EMART, LOTTE SHOPPING, HOMEPLUS]
Jeans: 9,900 won ($8.76). Korean beef: 4,000 won for 100 grams. A 50-inch UHD TV: 300,000 won.

Take that, online retailers!

Deep discounting is the latest survival technique being employed by major discount stores. A number of them are holding long-term sales to win customers back from internet bargains.

The craziness got started in March. Emart has its “nationwide” prices. Lotte Mart has “extreme” discounts. Homeplus is coming in with “shocking” special prices.

From March 28, Lotte Mart started offering a bucket of chicken weighing 900 grams, or 31.7 ounces, for 5,000 won to commemorate the 21st year since its founding. All 120,000 portions sold out.

The company announced Thursday it will be adding Korean beef to its arsenal. High-quality sirloin weighing in at 100 grams is being sold for 4,968 won (about half the usual price) from April 4 to 10, though the consumer must have Lotte Member’s card and one of five payment cards: Shinhan, Lotte, KB Kookmin, BC, and NH Bank.

Emart is counterattacking with beef and seafood. During the same time period as the others, the discount mart chain is offering frozen Korean braised beef ribs weighing 800 grams for 37,200 won, down 40 percent from the usual 62,000 won. If paid with Kookmin card, an additional discount is applied, taking the price down to 31,000 won.

Small octopus from Thailand are being sold at 980 won per 100 grams, a 48 percent discount. When paying with a Kookmin Card, customers get a further 10 percent discount. Vietnamese small octopus prepared already with vegetables and seasoning, weighing 570 grams, are being sold for 5,380 won. An additional 40 percent discount is offered to those buying with a Shinsegae point card.

It’s not all surf and turf.

Emart previously announced it will release its 50-inch Electro Man Smart ultra-high definition TV for 399,000 won. The set is produced by an outside manufacturer and sold under the name of the retailer.

It is designed specifically for a fast developing niche: one- or two-person households where price is more important than brand.

If that’s too rich, Emart has a pair of 9,900 won jeans.

Not to be outdone, Homeplus is offering fruit for next to nothing. Until April 20, a customer can get 2 kilograms, or 2.2 pounds, of Seongju sweet melon, 1.8 kilograms of seedless green grape from Chile or 3 kilograms of fully ripe tomatoes from Korea for 9,990 won.

The companies are claiming victory of sorts, over each other and over the common enemy of the online retailers.

“Due to the discount event from March 1 to 15, around 10.8 million people visited the store during this period,” said a source from Homeplus.

“This means 720,000 customers visited the store a day on average, which is 16 percent more than usual.”

Emart believes it won over 170,000 new customers with an earlier sales event in January, where 100 grams of bacon were sold for 990 won.


BY CHUN YOUNG-SON [kim.heyu@joongang.co.kr]


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