Convenience stores sell a lot to the middle-aged

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Convenience stores sell a lot to the middle-aged

Middle-aged consumers are emerging as the main customers of Korean convenience stores, according to a study by 7-Eleven, a retail outlet owned by Lotte Group.

“Local convenience stores became popular in the country in the 1990s, and back then consumers in the 20s and 30s were the main visitors,” said an official from 7-Eleven. “They were the generation born in the early 1960s, and now they have grown into middle-aged men and women. And sales from that group have grown recently.”

According to 7-Eleven, purchases this year through March 14 by consumers aged 50 or over increased by 19.1 percent compared to the previous year, and they accounted for more than 20 percent of total sales for the first time.

For example, sales of samgak gimbap, or triangular rice balls, from Jan. 1 to March 14 jumped 5.8 percent overall.

But sales of the same item to customers in their 50s went up 18.7 percent in the same period.

Sales of samgak gimbap to customers in their 20s jumped only 3.8 percent, and sales to people in their 30s and 40s rose 4.3 percent.

The study also showed that middle-aged customers are fond of imported beer at convenience stores. In the past, imported beer was popular among mainly young people.

Total sales of imported beer this year increased 20.8 percent, while sales to middle-aged customers went up 46.9 percent. Their purchases accounted for 18.9 percent of total sales, up from 16.6 percent in the previous year.

Other popular items were soft drinks, ready-to-drink coffee and dosirak (lunch boxes).

“Life expectancy has become longer and more people in their 50s are still part of the working population,” the official said.

“Sales increases in dosirak show that demand has grown among working middle-aged consumers for simple, convenient food.”

The official also noted a change in the lifestyle of middle-aged consumers with smartphones.

“Smartphones and the Internet were part of the culture of young people in the past, but nowadays middle-aged consumers are also part of that culture,” the official said.

“This is also bringing changes in their spending patterns,” he said.

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


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