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Rising sales at department stores suggest recovery of retail sector

All News 10:30 July 24, 2016

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's major department store chains saw their sales move up 2.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, government data showed Sunday, indicating a recovery may be under way in the retail sector.

According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, South Korea's top three department store brands -- Lotte, Hyundai and Shinsegae -- saw their sales improve in the January-March period from a year earlier, recovering from the 1.2 percent on-year drop posted for all of 2015.

Last year, local department stores suffered a drop in performances due to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) here, which induced South Koreans to avoid crowded areas and stay indoors.

The department stores also saw their sales advance 4.3 percent on-year in April. While sales dropped 2.7 percent on-year in May, they still were better than at large-sized supermarket chains, which suffered a 6.3 percent drop in sales over the cited period.

Industry watchers said the recovery may give birth to a new department store branch with annual sales of 1 trillion won (US$879 million).

Last year, only three branches managed to post annual sales above 1 trillion won, with two of them being Lotte and the other Shinsegae.

"As the sales of large branches are recovering, and as department stores are aggressively rolling out renewal projects, it is believed that the number of the so-called 1 trillion-won club branches will increase," an industry watcher said.


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