Do-it-yourself consumers lured online

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Do-it-yourself consumers lured online

Luxuries tend to go out of the window in a recession, and more Koreans are now taking responsibility for everything from annoying household chores to healthcare and beauty instead of paying someone else in a bid to cut costs.

This might spell bad news for the service industry, but it is being welcomed with open arms by Internet sites that offer various do-it-yourself kits as sales accelerate.

Kim Eun-young, a 34-year-old office worker, ditched her practice of going to the nail shop every weekend and started polishing her nails herself by purchasing a 20,000-won ($17.70) nail care kit from an Internet shopping mall.

“At times like this, even the 15,000 won I was spending to get my nails done every week was a luxury I couldn’t really afford. But with this kit I can do them myself for at least three months and save a lot of money,” she said.

According to G-Market, an online auction and shopping mall site, sales of nail care products rose 88 percent between July 11 and Aug. 11 compared to the same period last year. Pedicure kits jumped 48 percent, and sales of nail polish rose 28 percent, it said.

E-Mart sells nail polish for 3,000 won, while products for sloughing off dead skin are even cheaper at 1,000 won.

It said sales of related products were up 20.7 percent in the last three months from the corresponding period last year.

Sales of sports equipment increased 85.5 percent as people are keen to exercise at home rather than splurging on expensive gym memberships. Hair dye has also posted robust sales given the huge savings that can be made by skipping 100,000-won trips to the hair salon. E-Mart said its sales of hair dye, which costs from 10,000 won to 15,000 won, have grown five-fold this summer from last year.

Over the same period, Lotte Mart saw its sales of hair-coloring products soar by 432.5 percent. However, sales of toners that conceal gray hair dropped 7.3 percent as middle-aged men are also apparently spending less on vanity purchases due to the economic pinch.

And as frugal consumers scale back their visits to the car wash, car cleaning products are also becoming more popular. Lotte Mart said sales of vacuum cleaners and polishers that are used to clean the inside of cars rose 50. 6 percent over the last three months compared to last summer. Detergent and towels jumped 38.9 percent, it added.

For kitchen appliances, appliances used to make snacks, juice and waffles at home are also flying off the digital shelves, according to local online malls.

By Kim Jung-yoon [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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