SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's two leading duty-free operators will begin to sell duty-free products through local retail channels next week as the government has decided to temporarily permit such sales to help the pandemic-hit sector, company officials said Friday.
Industry leader Lotte Duty Free and its rival, Shilla Duty Free, plan to release duty-free items at its local retail channels and via an online sales platform, respectively, next week.
The customs office decided in late April to permit domestic sales of duty-free goods that were in stock for more than six months in an effort to prop up the segment that has been hit hard by the new coronavirus.
Duty-free products hit local shelves for the first time early this month as No. 3 player Shinsegae International Inc. sold luxury duty-free items on its online shopping mall.
Duty-free operators have faced a slump as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted air travel.
Duty-free stores saw their combined sales fall below the 1 trillion-won (US$824 million) mark for the first time in four years in April, according to industry data.
No. 2 player Shilla Duty Free plans to open an online channel next week to handle domestic sales of duty-free products. It will sell duty-free items of masstige brands at relatively affordable prices.
Lotte Duty Free plans to sell luxury foreign duty-free goods at eight department stores and discount malls in line with a state-led sales festival that kicks off next Friday.
The country's customs office earlier estimated that local duty-free operators may be able to secure some 160 billion won in cash with the eased sales rule.
Cosmetics, perfume, liquor and food will be excluded from the list of duty-free products to be sold at retail channels, due mainly to those products' shelf lives.
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