Going into last week’s Chuseok holidays, expectations were low in the retail sector due to a prolonged economic slowdown and a soon-to-be-implemented anti-graft law that will make expensive presents unlawful.
Against all odds, however, four major department stores in Korea enjoyed growth in the sales of holiday gift sets. To skirt an anti-graft law known as the Kim Young-ran Act, which goes into effect Sept. 28 and bans the exchange of gifts costing more than 50,000 won among civil servants and even journalists, the stores offered lower-cost gift sets.
Galleria Department Store said sales of holiday gift sets rose 10 percent between Aug. 26 and Sept. 14 compared to the same period last year.
The proportion of products that were cheaper than 50,000 won was 26 percent – the highest share and 6 percentage points more than last year. Products that cost more than 300,000 won accounted for 14 percent, 1 percentage point lower than last year.
Galleria Department Store expanded gift options that cost less than 50,000 won from last year’s 56 items to 478. As a result, revenue generated from 50,000-won-or-less products rose by 47 percent year-on-year.
The Kim Young-ran Act was not the only factor in holiday spending.
An unprecedented heat wave during the summer on top of a prolonged economic slowdown prompted many consumers to buy health supplements, which are cheaper than agricultural and marine products.
The most popular product was red ginseng extracts or pills. Health-related products saw a sales surge of 26 percent year-on-year at branches of Galleria Department Store. The top seller in the health category was red ginseng extract, which is in the 80,000-won price range.
Shinsegae, which is known for its extensive and affordable wine selection, said sales of wine rose the most – 40.5 percent – followed by health-related items, which rose by 20.8 percent year-on-year.
Health-conscious products were the most popular at Lotte as well, enjoying a 28 percent year-on-year increase in sales.
(Source: Korea Joongang Daily)