Big harvest is expected at registers for holidayWith Chuseok, the Korean thanksgiving holiday, just three weeks away, department stores are gearing up to make the most of it. It is the biggest holiday of the year for Koreans, which means families spend a lot of money on food, gifts and celebratory activities.
People traditionally buy gift packages at department stores to give as Chuseok gifts. Some of the more popular packages contain beef ribs, dried croaker, fruits such as apples or pears, whiskey, and toiletries. For the rib and fish sets, prices range from 100,000 won to 800,000 won ($80 to $640), while fruit sets cost 50,000 won to 100,000 won each.
Department stores usually start setting up special displays for Chuseok about three weeks before the holiday, and people start buying about two weeks before. This year, Chuseok falls on Sept. 21.
A public relations representative at Lotte Department Store, Lee Son-ju, said, "Chuseok and lunar New Year are the periods when our revenues are the greatest, so we prepare for the events carefully in advance."
The retailers expect robust sales this year because of the rebounding economy. "Business was good in the first half, and consumer prices are up, so we are expecting our Chuseok-period sales to rise about 35 percent over last year's," said Kim Ja-young at Shinsegae Department Store. Shinsegae is selling new types of package gifts this year, such as a flowers and wine set.
The Galleria Department Store has put together a guidebook for its gift sets. "The book will help customers pick out their gifts early," said Chu Eun-yeong at the store's public relations department.
Hyundai Department Store expects the mail-order gifts to increase by 20 percent this year. Hyundai is also running a special sale to promote gifts for seniors at its online site, E-hyundai. The sale runs until Thursday, and features discounts of up to 50 percent on products such as massage armchairs.
Just as shopping malls are always the first to start celebrating Christmas in the West, department stores here are always the first to start celebrating Chuseok, the harvest moon festival.
by Choi Jie-ho