Store sales target foreign shoppers

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Store sales target foreign shoppers

Department stores have been launching promotional campaigns aimed at foreigners since the beginning of the year to boost anemic sales.

Shinsegae, Lotte and Hyundai will participate in the 2013 Korea Grand Sale from tomorrow until Jan. 28 to lure foreign customers, who can receive discounts by flashing their passports. The event is co-organized by the Visit Korea Committee.

Retailers reported disappointing sales over Christmas and the New Year holiday as cash-strapped Korean consumers continue to cut back on spending.

Industry sources say the three major department stores are targeting foreigners ahead of the Lunar New Year break in early February, when hordes of free-spending Chinese are expected to flood into Korea.

More brands are participating in this year’s Korea Grand Sale than in 2012 and many aim to capitalize on the renascent Korean Wave, they say. Lotte has seen brand registrations for the event jump 15 percent on-year, meaning 230 brands will participate.

Lotte is also promoting and marketing the event via social networking services for the first time. By holding events on Facebook and Weibo, the leading Chinese microblogging site, it will award gift certificates worth 200,000 won ($188) as prizes.

It will even send text messages in Japanese promoting the event to tourists from Japan who get their passports stamped at domestic airports, Lotte said. It will also offer prepaid cards via a lottery.

At Hyundai Department Store, 150 brands are participating in the annual sale, up 36 percent since 110 last year.

Shinsegae Department Store is hoping to lure foreign customers with local cultural content. Its main store in Sogong-dong, central Seoul, will operate a Korean Traditional Culture Experience Zone during this period. This will offer traditional games such as tuho, an arrow tossing game, and neolttwigi, which involves jumping up and down on either side of a seesaw. It will also allow foreign shoppers to experience traditional instruments, crafts, food and pansori, a traditional Korean style of narrative song, in which a single performer is accompanied by a drummer.

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

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