‘Black Friday’ boosts sales after all

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‘Black Friday’ boosts sales after all

The government-led Korea Black Friday sales event has been criticized for offering lower-than-expected discounts, but the initiative has proved a driving force in boosting the sales of participating retailers.

Major department stores - Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae - have all enjoyed two-digit sales growth.

The retailers are now seeking a larger share of the holiday shopping pie by increasing the discounts and the number of items on sale, attempting to catch up from slow third-quarter sales due to the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Lotte Group, the country’s top retailer, decided to extend discounts to more Lotte-affiliated shops, including Hi-Mart and Lotte Duty Free.

The move came after Chairman Shin Dong-bin ordered the group on Monday to slash more prices and include best-selling items on the list of sale items.

Lotte Duty Free, which participates in similar sales events, will offer up to 80 percent off 198 brands through Oct. 31, the company said on Tuesday.

Customers will get an average of 40 percent off on a wide range of brands ranging from popular designer brands Balenciaga and Tory Burch to domestic and imported cosmetics labels.

The inclusion appears to respond to the skepticism that the retailers rarely slash prices on expensive imported products.

Electronics store Hi-Mart also vowed to join the sales with discounts on 140,000 home appliances.

Lotte Department Store, the country’s top chain, is providing deals on some 580 brands.

The department store chain said on Tuesday that it will offer an additional 10-20 percent off already discounted items while including over 40 new brands in the sales. New participants in the sale include Tefal and Phillips.

Lotte Department Store said its sales from Oct. 1 to 4 jumped 23.5 percent year-on-year, its biggest sales growth seen since the year-end sale in December 2011.

Hyundai Department Store also said its sales from Oct. 1 to 3 rose 27.6 percent year-on-year, which led the store to offer extended deals similar to Lotte.

It added 40 more brands while offering up to 20 percent off currently discounted items.

Hyundai’s selling point is its multi-brand imported shops, which rarely offer sizable discounts.

The prices of brands there - such as padded jacket brands ADD and SAM - will be marked down as much as 90 percent from original prices.

Shinsegae has also seen strong sales growth, improving 36.7 percent year-on-year, led by a 54.7 percent growth in women’s apparel and a 57.4 percent sales growth in jewelry and watches. Sales of electronic appliances jumped 80 percent.

A total of 27,000 different shops - including department stores, big discount supermarkets, convenience stores and online malls - will offer up to 80 percent off through Oct. 14, but many retailers’ offerings last longer than the set date.

Still, skepticism lingers about the event, which the government promises will become a regular one going forward.

Oh Young-sik of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said some of the offered items are more expensive than deals offered online.

A 43-inch TV, for example, can be found for 780,000 won ($669) online, but it comes with a price tag of 960,000 won at the much-hyped discount event.

A big supermarket chain also offered a chocolate snack for 1,200 won, but its average price last month stood at 900 won.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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