Discounts arrive early at big stores

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Discounts arrive early at big stores

Suffering from a huge drop in sales as the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak swept the country last month, stores nationwide are scrambling to launch sales this month, a season that usually shows good retail sales even without discounts. But the large discount chains have reached a point where they can no longer handle their inventory overhang. E-Mart, one of the biggest retailers, said on Tuesday it would unload excess inventory with a retail value of 100 billion won ($87 million). Products on sale include summer clothes, lingerie, daily necessities and even summer vacation products.

Prices will be cut by an average of 20 to 30 percent, and some goods may carry stickers with 60 percent price cuts.

“Summer discounts usually started in mid-August in the past, but MERS trashed our sales in June,” said a spokesman at E-Mart. “The situation is so bad that our business partners are on the verge of going broke, and we had no choice but to get rid of summer goods as soon as possible.”

E-Mart, bursting at the seams with inventory, had to go so far as to rent a separate warehouse, after its logistics system became saturated.

In June, its sales of fashion goods fell 18 percent from those of a year earlier, and inventory increased by more than 10 percent.

Revenue from camping and outdoor products plunged 30 percent over the same period.

“Unless we rush to introduce measures to prevent additional sales falls, we fear we may be entering a lengthy recession,” said Oh Se-woo, the managing director of lifestyle at E-Mart.

Lotte Mart has also started discounts of up to 50 percent on about 1,000 products. The price cuts will extend until July 29.

“Summer clothes or beach products sell during only one season of the year, and inventories are massive this year,” said a spokesman at Lotte Mart. “The most urgent issue is to revitalize consumption and help our partners survive.”

Homeplus has put on sale many products only available in the summer, including watermelons and fans; its price cuts will run until Aug. 12.


BY LEE SO-AH [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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