Big stores get January blues early, in December

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Big stores get January blues early, in December

Sales at major discount outlet chains and department stores dropped in December from a year earlier, reflecting worsening consumer sentiment, the government said yesterday.

The combined sales of the country’s three major discount outlet chains - Lotte Mart, E-Mart and Homeplus - fell 5 percent on-year last month, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

This compares to a 3.7 percent on-year gain in December 2011, and a 1.7 percent on-year drop in November.
The ministry attributed the decline to the start of the “voluntary” suspension of business by large outlet stores, which apparently led to a 5.2 percent on-year drop in the number of purchases made at stores owned by the three discount outlet chains last month.

“Sales at discount outlets dropped 5 percent from the same period the year before due to the start of voluntary shutdowns of stores and the cold weather that led to a drop in the overall number of customers,” the ministry said in a release. The country’s weather agency earlier said the average temperature had dropped 3.2 degrees from that of an average year to minus 1.7 degrees Celsius (28.9 Fahrenheit) last month, making it the second-coldest December since 1973.

The number of purchases at department stores rose 2.2 percent from a year earlier, but the combined sales of the three chains also slipped 0.2 percent on-year as the average amount of each purchase shrank 2.3 percent. The three chains are Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai. Their combined sales in December 2011 surged 11 percent on-year. Yonhap
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