Fine dust adversely affecting S. Korea’s retail sector

SEOUL-- South Korea's retail sector is adversely being affected by the high concentrations of fine dust carried over from China and Mongolia, industry watchers said Sunday.

Data showed that despite the many days off last week to celebrate international Labor Day, Buddha's Birthday and Children's Day, the fine dust alerts issued by the weather service and general health concerns raised caused a lot of people to stay indoors.

Retailers such as Lotte Department Store said its sales dropped 5 percent on year on Saturday when the fine dust warning was issued. It said from Monday through Saturday of last week, its sales were off by 2.8 percent vis-a-vis the year before.

"Originally, Lotte expected a 5-percent increase in sales early this month," a company source who declined to be identified said.

Hyundai Department Store another retailer said sales in May up till Saturday edged up 2.5 percent compared to the year before. The gain, however, failed to meet expectations.

It said people tended to stay indoors which hurt purchases. The store added that large numbers of people going abroad further weakened sales.

Such views were echoed by Shinsegae Department Store which said its sales were up 4.7 percent, but the numbers reflected expansion of its store size and not a good on-year comparison.

The department store said fallouts for offline stores had been felt even in April, when fine dust levels made headlines.

By products sold the three department stores said there was a slight falloff in both clothing while gains were posted in household appliances and in particular air purifiers.

"There were double digit spikes in demand for air purifiers that helped out overall sales to some extent," an official at Hyundai said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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