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Business conditions of bars plunge to a 15-yr low in March

All Headlines 12:02 April 04, 2016

SEJONG, April 4 (Yonhap) -- The business conditions of local drinking establishments fell to the lowest level in more than 15 years last month, reflecting a protracted slump in the South Korean economy, government data showed Monday.

According to the data compiled by Statistics Korea, the service industry output index of bars, pubs and other shops selling alcoholic beverages stood at a record 73 in March, marking the lowest since July 2000 when the statistical agency started to compile such data.

The latest number is lower than the 78.2 tallied in June last year in the midst of widening epidemic fears over Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which claimed nearly 40 lives in the country.

The service index reflects inflation-adjusted growth in comparison with the 2010 figure, with a reading above 100 meaning that the sector's production outperforms that of 2010 and vice versa. The figure has remained at the below-100 level since it touched 100.9 in July 2014.

"Working-class people used to visit bars and pubs after work and group dinner in good times. But these days, unfavorable economic conditions seem to deter them from going around expensive drinking establishments after work or dinner," said an official from Statistics Korea.

Amid a long economic slump, South Korean households have apparently changed to belt-tightening mode as private consumption rose 3.1 percent on-year in February, slowing down from 8.6 percent in October and 6.2 percent in November, respectively.

As a result, other service sectors like restaurants and clothing shops also saw their index decline last month.

The service index for the food and beverages business stood at 84.3, the lowest since September 2011 when it hit 83.9, while that of retail boutiques reached a one year low of 73.1 last month.

Asia's fourth-largest economy is slowing down as its exports have dropped for the 15th straight month since January 2015, the longest-ever losing streak. The country's outbound shipments fell 8.2 percent on-year in March.

brk@yna.co.kr
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