Seoul pushes ban on big stores selling daily goods

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Seoul pushes ban on big stores selling daily goods

Plan on buying your soju only by the case at the supermarket if the Seoul government has its way.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is pushing forward a plan to limit large discount chain markets and super-super markets (SSMs) from selling goods that are often purchased at small private stores. The municipal government said it is the second measure they have provided to protect private store operators followed by a plan to limit large stores’ operation on weekends.

The municipal government said yesterday they are considering banning large discount stores from selling goods that are often purchased by customers at smaller stores.

Goods appearing on the city government’s list are: cigarettes, garbage bags, ramen, makgeolli (Korean traditional rice wine) and batteries.

Soju, the most popular liquor in Korea, appeared on the list. The city government would like to see soju only sold by the case, not by the bottle. Generally, one case contains 20 to 30 bottles of soju.

Individual ice cream cones, light bulbs and ingredients including bean sprouts and tofu were also included. Popular street foods tteokbokki (rice cake served with hot pepper sauce) and sundae (Korean sausage) appeared on the list as well.

“We will propose the plan to the central government after filing the list of goods,” Kang Hee-eun, a spokesman of the Seoul Metropolitan Government said. “The list of goods we mentioned today was recommended by local district offices.”

Earlier this month, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said that the city government needs to provide “measures that can revive small private stores” during a meeting he had with local district officials.

Earlier this year, the city government prohibited large retailers from conducting business on two Sundays per month as part of the government’s policy to curb the expansion of big retailers to protect small and private stores.

In June, five large retailers, including Lotte Shopping, E-Mart and Homeplus in the Gangdong and Songpa districts of eastern Seoul, filed a petition with the Seoul Administrative Court citing illegalities in the implementation of the measures and a violation of the Retail Industry Development Law.

“I think we can compete in better conditions with large discount stores if the plan is legalized,” said 60-year-old Jeong Won-il who runs a small convenience store in Seodaemun District, central Seoul.

By Kwon Sang-soo, Kang Byung-chul [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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