Department stores thinking outside the box

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Department stores thinking outside the box

Department stores are launching novel discount sales events more frequently to compete with bargain markets and online malls.

Hyundai Department Store has rented a section of the COEX exhibition center in southern Seoul to host what it describes as an “unprecedented” sales event.

This is the first time the department store chain has held a discount event outside its premises. Starting today through Sunday, it will offer up to 80 percent off more than 200 brands that are worth 35 billion won ($30 million).

The discounted items range from clothes and electronic appliances to sportswear and fashion accessories.

The discount sales come a month after the chain took part in the government-backed “Korea Black Friday” event in October.

Sales in October jumped 8.7 percent compared to the same period last year, following a 1 to 3 percent sales growth in previous months.

The retailer said it decided to embark on a new event, as the previous event helped it recover sales lost during the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“It is true we weren’t able to have an active marketing presence when the country underwent the serious aftermath of MERS earlier this year or the sinking of the Sewol ferry last year,” said Jeong Ji-young, director of the marketing strategy division at Hyundai Department Store.

“But we will now engage in such marketing and sales events to offer products at cheaper prices.”

Men’s and women’s clothes will be marked down as much as 80 percent, while young casual brands will be offered up to 70 percent cheaper.

The outdoor sales event was initiated by rival Lotte Department Store in April. Lotte Department Store, the country’s biggest department store chain, opened the “Lotte Black Super Show” at KINTEX, a convention center in Gyeonggi, to clear its stock of products.

The new attempt has been well-received. Sales in the first three days of the four-day event amounted to 8.5 billion won, bigger than its initial target of 6 billion won.

More than 600,000 people visited the venue in the metropolitan area close to Seoul, according to Lotte Department Store.

Hyundai Department Store will also connect farmers with customers at COEX.

“To help the local farming industry, we devoted a section to selling agricultural produce sold by farmers and merchants, where customers can get food and groceries with 20 to 30 percent off,” Jeong said.

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