Department store shoppers, car buyers splurgingSales at Korea’s top department stores during August grew at the fastest annual rate in five months, preliminary data showed yesterday, suggesting an improvement in private consumption for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae last month rose by 7 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance estimated, after a 2.1 percent drop in July.
Sales at the country’s top discount stores fell 2.4 percent in August from a year earlier and 4.9 percent in July.
The data bolsters the central bank’s expectations for sequential growth during the third quarter to accelerate from the seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in the April-June period and follows better-than-expected August exports data.
The Bank of Korea’s composite consumer sentiment index held steady at 105 for the third consecutive month, meaning consumers who expect economic and living conditions to improve in coming months outnumber those who expect them to worsen.
The Finance Ministry also said yesterday that sales of locally-produced automobiles rose by 23.9 percent in annual terms in August after a 5.2 percent rise in July, marking the strongest pickup since April 2010.
A Finance Ministry official attributed the sharp pickup in auto sales to a low comparison base stemming from a prolonged strike among the local carmakers and said the number of cars sold last month fell from July.
Hyundai Motor’s unionized workers idled the carmaker’s Korean factories for four or eight hours per day over 10 days starting on Aug. 20 over contract negotiations.
Gasoline sales by volume rose by 11.4 percent year-on-year last month after a 2 percent fall in July, lifted by improved demand during the summer vacation season.
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