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Year-end retail sales in S. Korea decline as confidence still falters

Souce:Xinhua Publish By Updated 23/01/2013 9:54 pm in Business / no comments


SEOUL, Jan. 23 — Year-end retail sales in South Korea declined in 2012 as consumer confidence still faltered amid lingering concerns over the global economic slowdown.

Total sales at the country’s three major discount outlets, including E-Mart, Lotte Mart and Homeplus, tumbled 5 percent in December from a year earlier after falling 1.7 percent in the prior month, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement on Wednesday. Combined sales at the three leading department stores, including Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai, dipped 0.2 percent in December after surging 9.1 percent in November.

The sluggish year-end sales reflected the still fragile consumer confidence over the economic conditions. The number of customers who visited the discount chains fell 5.2 percent last month, and unit product prices at the department stores retreated 2.3 percent.

For the whole year of 2012, sales at the discount chains fell for the first time in three years, declining 3.3 percent from a year before. Those for the department stores dipped 0.3 percent in 2012 after jumping 8.9 percent in the prior year.

In December, consumer electronics sales at the discount outlets plunged 8.1 percent on weak demand for durable goods such as fridges and TVs. Demand for clothing and daily household goods sank 9 percent and 5.5 percent each, with those for miscellaneous products falling 3.6 percent.

Grocery sales, which account for more than half of sales for the key discount chains, contracted 4.9 percent last month amid higher fruit and vegetable prices caused by cold weather. Sports- related item sales increased 1.1 percent.

Department stores sold fewer clothing in December as demand for winter wears was reflected in November sales. Demand for men’s clothing and women’s suits plunged 8.2 percent and 7.4 percent respectively, with those for women’s casuals and foreign luxury brands falling 1.4 percent and 0.3 percent each.

Sales of youth sporting items jumped 10.5 percent in December, with those for daily household goods and foodstuffs advancing 8.5 percent and 6.4 percent each.



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