Dessert trend hits department stores

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Dessert trend hits department stores


Left: People line up at Jenny Bakery in Hyundai Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul. Right: Lady M cakes. [JoongAng Ilbo]

Local department stores are gearing up to bring new rounds of Korean consumers into their shops, catering to them with the trendiest sweets from around the world.

While it has been several years since the dessert craze swept Korea, marked mainly with the opening of the small independent shops in the alleys of Garosu-gil in southern Seoul and near Hongik University in northern Seoul, it’s only quite recent that department stores have jumped on the trend.

Shinsegae Department Store said yesterday that it will reopen its reinvented dessert and grocery shop, Sweet & Gift Zone, today inside the main branch’s food market in Hoehyeon-dong, central Seoul. The store will include items like processed jam, olive oil, salt, pepper and other spices.

The businesses’ renewal is part of overall renovations of the department store, the first in nine years. The food market is expected to be completed at the end of August.

“The Sweet & Gift Zone [that we are opening first] offers consumers globally popular [dessert] brands,” said an official from Shinsegae Department Store. “Inside the zone, we created a separate patisserie zone to offer different desserts from around the world.”

Ahead of the opening today, the retailer introduced several of its newest brands, including Veniero’s, a New York-based Italian bakery and cheesecake company; Hotel Douce, which offers traditional French sweets; and La Montee, which uses French ingredients and natural yeast.

The new dessert market inside Shinsegae will also have brands it previously offered, such as Lady M, known for its crepe cakes, and Royce’ Nama Chocolate. In celebration of its reinvention, the retailer said it plans to open a pop-up store for five days from today, featuring popular Mon Chou Chou rolls from Japan, among other items.

“We have brought in global [dessert] brands that are hard to find elsewhere [in the country] to our Sweet & Gift Zone,” said Lee Jin-soo, director of Shinsegae Department Store’s main branch. “Once renovations on the whole food market are finished in late August, the ground level of our store will be a food and dessert landmark, not just for city shoppers but also for foreign tourists.”

But Shinsegae isn’t alone in its efforts to entice consumers with sweets.

Earlier last month, Hyundai Department Store opened a pop-up shop selling cookies from Hong Kong’s Jenny Bakery. When the pop-up store first debuted inside its main branch in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul, consumers waited in line from 10:30 a.m., long before the store even opened its doors.

It marked the first time Jenny Bakery opened an overseas store outside Hong Kong, with Hyundai Department Store tasked with selling at least 400 boxes of Jenny Bakery cookies daily over four days. But in that case, it didn’t take long for supplies to run out.

“We had no choice but to limit the number of boxes for each consumer to five boxes,” said Park So-young, a Hyundai Department Store official. “We were very busy back then and asked for understanding from our consumers, many of whom stood in line but weren’t able to buy any sweets.”

Industry insiders have attributed the newfound dessert craze to the bad economy, during which consumers are more inclined to spend money on small luxury items for themselves. Desserts cost an average of 10,000 won ($9.75) to 20,000 won, compared to more expensive products like designer handbags and high-end shoes.

“Social networking sites have also played a role,” a retail consultant added. “[People] tend to share places with each other that they find appealing or good.”


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