For many retail chains, Chuseok’s no holidayMany retail chains will keep doors open throughout Chuseok holiday or reduce the number of days closed to capitalize on Chinese tourists who may visit in droves during the period that overlaps with one of China’s biggest holidays.
Chuseok lasts from Sunday to Tuesday, while China’s Mid-Autumn Day is Monday and many workers will likely take Tuesday off as well.
E-Mart will keep 120 of 151 stores open throughout the period, while Homeplus will operate 127 of 139. Lotte Mart will keep 96 of its 109 branches open.
Department stores used to close for at least two days during the three-day holiday, but Lotte Department Store will make an exception this year.
Three Lotte Department Stores - in Jamsil, southern Seoul, Myeong-dong in central Seoul and Seomyeon in Busan - will close only Monday. The three branches are known for having more Chinese customers than other branches.
Fifteen percent of sales at the Myeong-dong branch from January to June involved Chinese customers, compared to 5 percent of sales at each of the Lotte Department Stores in Seomyeon and Jamsil.
Meanwhile, retail sales leading up to Chuseok were mixed.
Low-end retail chains that mainly sell inexpensive gift packages experienced only a slight increase in the sales of gift sets, whereas sales skyrocketed at upscale department stores.
Lotte Department Store reported that through Sunday, sales of gift sets had increased 32 percent compared to last year. Hyundai Department Store said sales rose 24.7 percent and Shinsegae Department Store reported a 17.1 percent increase.
By contrast, gift-set sales at E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount store chain, increased only 2.1 percent as of Monday and Homeplus recorded 1.8 percent growth.
Gift set sales at Lotte Mart, however, were up 4.1 percent.
In the first half of this year, more than 6.6 million foreigners visited Seoul. This is a nearly 20 percent increase compared to the first half of last year, according to the Bank of Korea. Of the total foreigners, Chinese visitors account for 40 percent.
Foreign tourist spending in the first half grew by more than 47 percent to $5.1 billion year-on-year.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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