Chuseok puts the wind back into retailers’ sails

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Chuseok puts the wind back into retailers’ sails

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Korean retailers saw their sales spike in September, thanks to recovering consumer sentiment and the Chuseok holiday.

Drastic increases in food sales led the overall rise at all types of retailers. People spend more on low-end, processed food in their daily lives, while spending more on luxury goods as Chuseok gifts.

Large discount store chains like E-Mart, Homeplus and Lotte Mart saw a sales grow 7 percent in September compared to a year earlier, data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy showed on Wednesday, followed by department stores of 2.8 percent and conglomerate-brand supermarkets at 2.7 percent.

“Sales growth at large discount store chains and department store steadily slowed to linger at the minus level since beginning of this year, but the growth gained momentum in the past three months,” said an official at the Trade Ministry.

When looking closer at food sales, department stores were the largest beneficiaries in increase, at 30.3 percent year-on-year, as people usually buy pricey fresh food like packaged fruit and meat products as Chuseok gifts. Large discount store chains also saw sales climb about 13 percent.

Hypermarkets, the smaller supermarkets in residential areas operated by retail conglomerates, also saw sales rise in the past three months. Lower-end Chuseok gift packages like canned tuna and ham led the increase.

Convenience stores saw an almost 30.8 percent year-on-year rise in monthly sales in September, but this has been a trend that has steadily continued since the government raised cigarette prices in January.

But at convenience stores, sales of instant and processed food like pre-packaged meal boxes, instant ramyeon noodles, imported beer and snacks, also contributed to maintaining such high growth. Thanks to the trend, the number of convenience stores increased last month by 9.9 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, local retailers saw their sales drop for manufactured goods, ranging from fashion products to daily household supplies.

Department stores’ clothes sales fell by 6.1 percent in September compared to a year earlier, due in part to increased competition with other types of retail businesses like online shopping malls and outlet stores.

The rise in overall domestic consumption also resulted in an increase of electricity consumption at commercial and residential areas by about 4.2 percent year-on-year during the past three months.

Power consumption at factories and power plants rose only 1 percent year-on-year during the same period. But overall domestic power consumption rose 2.4 percent year-on-year during the third quarter, showing the highest jump since the last three months of 2013.


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

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