SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's two leading duty-free operators started to sell duty-free products through local retail channels Tuesday, as the government has decided to temporarily permit such sales to help the pandemic-hit sector.
Industry leader Lotte Duty started to release duty-free items, including foreign luxury brands, worth 10 billion won (US$8.3 million), on its integrated online shopping mall.
No. 2 player Shilla Duty Free plans to sell duty-free products via its new online sales platform starting Thursday. It will sell duty-free items of masstige brands at relatively affordable prices.
The customs office decided in late April to permit domestic sales of duty-free goods that have been 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 mark for the first time in four years in April, according to industry data.
Amid the prolonged pandemic, "revenge" spending appears to boost demand for luxury items.
The country's customs office earlier estimated that local duty-free operators may be able to secure around 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 such products' shelf lives.
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