Korea launches Black Friday spree

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Korea launches Black Friday spree

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Consumers are in for a two-week discount shopping spree next month as shops across the country take part in Korea’s version of Black Friday.

Starting on Oct. 1, some 27,000 retail stores nationwide will be offering discounts ranging from 50 to 70 percent.

Black Friday in the United States is not an official holiday but has developed into the busiest shopping period of the year, with sizeable discounts offered at most outlets.

In a bid to boost Korea’s domestic consumption, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy received approval for the event during the regular session of the economy-related ministerial meeting on Tuesday in Seoul.

Participating retail companies include five major department store chains, Lotte, Hyundai, Shinsegae, Galleria and AK; 16 of the largest online open-market shopping malls, including 11th Street and G-Market; some 200 traditional markets nationwide; and some 25,400 locations of local convenience store chains, CU, GS25, Ministop and 7-Eleven. Some restaurant chains, including VIPS and BBQ, are also offering discounts.

“This event may seem similar to the Korea Grand Sale, but in fact, the two events are different,” said Jeong Hong-gon, an official at the retail and logistics department of the Industry Ministry.

“The participating retailers already provide sales via the Korea Grand Sale, which is a tourist-oriented event, but the actual product line and brands subjected to discounts this time are highly focused on local
consumers.”

All the card companies operating in Korea are offering interest-free installment purchases during the two weeks for all purchases made that are worth more than 50,000 won ($42).

Large discount store chains - which are required by law to close two weekends per month to help small independently owned stores and traditional markets - have had the compulsory closure orders lifted during the two weeks.

The plan aims to accelerate the recovery of domestic consumption, which began to rise slowly in July.

According to Statistics Korea, the nation’s retail sales grew in the minus level in the first half of this year, posting -0.3 percent in May and -3.5 percent growth in June, mainly due to the Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak.

Retail sales increased slightly by 1.9 percent in July, and consumption rose at a sharper pace in August and earlier this month.

This was due to the one-day temporary holiday over the Liberation Day weekend in mid-August, the extended Korea Grand Sale - an annual event started earlier this year - and the lowering of individual consumption tax on expensive products such as cars and home appliances.

Data showed that card payments rose by 14.5 percent and 10.3 percent year on year in July and August, respectively. Sales of Korean brand autos also rose 20 percent year on year after the lowered consumption tax.


BY KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]

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