By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) -- Sales at South Korean duty-free stores hit a new monthly high in March to breach the 2 trillion-won (US$1.76 billion) mark for the first time, industry data showed Monday, despite a recent Chinese regulation placed on small-scale vendors.
The combined sales of local duty-free shops reached 2.16 trillion won last month, marking the third consecutive month that domestic duty-free sales have set a new monthly record, according to the data from the Korea Duty Free Shops Association.
The sales increase came despite Beijing's implementation of a new law in January that levies taxes on small-scale vendors who sell their duty-free purchases, such as cosmetic products, to consumers back home.
An industry source expected Chinese retailers to keep purchasing South Korean duty-free items, which are cheaper and more reliable, despite the regulation.
Local duty-free operators have employed an active marketing strategy, including practices like handing out free gift cards to Chinese vendors -- another reason for the stellar sales figure, according to the source.
Last year, sales at South Korean duty-free stores reached an all-time high of $17.23 billion, up about 35 percent from a year earlier. The record came despite a fall in the number of Chinese visitors following a diplomatic row over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system here.
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