Golden Pig baby boomers turn seven

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Golden Pig baby boomers turn seven

Mrs. Lee, a 34-year-old homemaker, is excited about sending her 7-year-old daughter to first grade in March. She wants to make sure that everything is ready well in advance, like the buying of school books, stationery supplies and a nice wardrobe to help her child stand out and feel special.

In fact, Lee’s daughter is special: she was born in 2007, the Year of the Golden Pig.

“We didn’t plan it or anything, but when I gave birth it was the Year of the Golden Pig,” she recalled. “The birth rate that year was very high as couples believed that it was a good year to bring luck to newborn children.”

Retailers like Shinsegae Department Store are hoping for a mini-bonanza this season because the Golden Pig kids are heading to grade school. In fact, retailers have benefitted from the Golden Pig children ever since they were born - and even before.

They were their own mini baby boom.

The number of babies born from early 2007 to early 2008 outpaced any other recent 12-month period. According to Statistics Korea, the number of newly born babies in the calendar year 2007 was 493,000, up 10 percent from the previous year’s 448,000.

“In 2006, when the Golden Pig year mothers were pregnant, sales of baby goods increased 13 percent overall compared to the previous year,” said an official from Shinsegae Department Store. “In the year those babies were born, related sales jumped 26.5 percent compared to 2006.”

And now, the retailer says school-related items are flying off the shelves. A study by Shinsegae Department Store released yesterday shows that from Jan. 1 to 21, sales of child-related items surged 10.9 percent compared to the same period last year. The retailer noted that such purchases would usually build in February as the start of school approached. But this year, “parents are spending more and are being engaged more actively.”

Won Jung-woon, a buyer at Shinsegae Department Store, said that in 2006 and 2007, expensive strollers, such as Norway’s Stokke brand, were very popular. Although the strollers cost 1.2 million won ($1,115), around 100 are sold steadily every month, he recalled.

“I want to make sure that my child is given the best preparation because it will be her first experience in society, where she will face more competition than children of other ages,” said homemaker Lee.

Shinsegae Department Store said yesterday it plans to introduce high-end, luxury items targeting parents of 7-year-olds who are loyal customers based on the purchasing power they’ve demonstrated in the past. Items they are pitching include golf club sets for children, horse-riding equipment and fur coats.

“We see a trend that spending on items for ‘my child’ is increasing,” said Park Soon-min, head of the sales strategy team at Shinsegae Department Store.

“We expect more parents to look for items for their children as presents also with the Lunar New Year holiday approaching.”


BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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