Sales at big chain stores go up 1.8% in 2016Major Korean discount retailers saw their sales edge up 1.8 percent last year to exceed 40 trillion won ($35.3 billion) for the first time ever, largely thanks to an increase in new outlets, industry data showed Tuesday.
According to the data, the combined revenues of E-Mart, the country’s top discount chain operated by retail conglomerate Shinsegae, and others reached 40.1 trillion won last year, compared with 39.4 trillion won a year earlier.
E-Mart launched the country’s first big discount store in 1993, with Homeplus, Lotte Mart and other players following suit.
The country’s big retailers saw stellar performance in the 2000s on the back of a sharp rise in new outlets and diversified services. But coming into the 2010s, the chains struggled to stay afloat as policy measures aimed at protecting mom-and-pop stores as well as lackluster economic growth squeezed their sales.
Recently, they have suffered sluggish sales growth due to slower-than-expected economic recovery and a government policy that bans conglomerate-run discount chains from operating on certain weekends.
From 2012, discount chains in most areas have been mandated to close their shops for two weekend days each month to help steer shoppers to smaller retailers. On an annual basis, the regulation requires discount chains to close for roughly 20 days.