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Duty-free sales up for 4th month in Aug. but still below pre-pandemic level

All News 11:36 September 29, 2020

SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- Duty-free sales in South Korea rose for the fourth straight month in August on increased purchases by Chinese vendors, but revenues remained below the pre-pandemic level, industry data showed Tuesday.

Combined sales at duty-free shops here reached 1.44 trillion won (US$1.23 billion) last month, up 15.3 percent from the previous month, according to the Korea Duty Free Shops Association.

It marked the fourth straight month of gains since April, when sales fell below the 1 trillion-won threshold for the first time in four years.

Despite some recovery, duty-free sales remained at half of pre-pandemic figures, it said.

"Sales recently rose by some 10 percent every month, as Chinese vendors increased duty-free purchases amid reviving domestic demand in China," a duty-free store official said.

In August, the number of visitors to local duty-free shops reached around 592,000, up from about 517,000 in July, according to the data.

Local duty-free operators have been struggling in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the virus outbreak has disrupted air travel.

South Korean duty-free operators are desperate to overcome the industry-wide slump with belt-tightening measures, including increasing the number of closing days at some outlets in major local cities and cutting their overseas operations.

Only a few customers are spotted at duty-free stores at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, in this photo taken Sept. 17, 2020. (Yonhap)


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