Cost-conscious consumers move year-end parties to home

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Cost-conscious consumers move year-end parties to home

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Christmas party cakes and drinks. Provided by Interpark

Christmas and the end of the year mean it is a time for parties and celebrations. But with Korea’s ongoing economic slump, many people are turning away from expensive nights out on the town and are instead saving money by celebrating at home with friends and family.

With this change, sales of Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorative items at online shopping malls are climbing steadily.

According to the online shopping mall Interpark, sales of Christmas trees and party supplies increased 86 percent in the Nov. 28 to Dec. 4 period compared to the same time last year.

Online store Gmarket similarly saw its sales of home party supplies increase 39 percent over that same week compared to a year earlier. In particular, sales of party table decorations shot up 120 percent.

“As party culture centers more around young people, we are seeing more customers who are planning to enjoy home parties at the end of the year with friends and family,” said a spokesperson for Gmarket.

“The demand for party supplies is increasing because they can be bought at discounted prices at special product displays or through joint purchasing at online malls.”

Gmarket expects that demand will continue through Christmas Day, so has prepared the Ready Set Christmas sales exhibition, discounting 5,900 home-party-related accessories for up to 40 percent off.

AK Mall, which sells party costumes such as Santa Claus outfits and reindeer antler hair bands, said that sales of home party products have surged 257 percent from last year.

“Orders have doubled compared to last year due to the trend of having small parties with close friends at home instead of going to large yearend parties,” said a spokesman for AK Mall.

Those busy working couples who do not have much time to shop can also visit Auction’s 2013 Yearend Home Romantic Party sales exhibition.

Large discount-store chains are also heatedly promoting home-party products.

E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount store chain, said it has doubled the volume of party products available, with sales of Christmas trees up 54.7 percent from last year and other decorations up 12.1 percent.

Another large retailer, Homeplus is focusing on “red” foods, such as sirloin steaks, lobsters, wine and strawberries, offering discounts of up to 50 percent.

The discount-store chain said it has prepared 200,000 lobsters this year as they have emerged as one of the most popular dishes for year-end parties, with sales increasing roughly five times compared to last year.

“Considering the sudden cold weather and the consumers’ tight purses, we have prepared various kinds of foods that can be enjoyed at home,” said Lim Byung-nam, director of product planning at Homeplus. “We hope consumers will have hearty house parties with the red foods that represent wealth and health, and that are known to have abundant antioxidants.”

Candles, a popular mood enhancer for parties, have also been discounted at many department stores. The premium candle brand WoodWick has discounts its candles at 17 department stores by up to 40 percent.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]



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