Retailer confidence remains weak for Q3

SEOUL-- A majority of South Korean retailers remain downbeat on their business conditions in the third quarter amid concerns over weak domestic demand and high household debt, a poll showed Sunday.

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said its retail business survey index (RBSI) stood at 91 for the July-September period of the year, up from 90 from three months earlier.

The figure is based on a poll of some 1,000 retail businesses in Seoul and six other major cities nationwide. A reading below 100 means that pessimists outnumber optimists.

"The RBSI rose for the second consecutive quarter on expectations for the new government's measures to boost the economy," the KCCI said. "Yet the figure remains below par amid a lack of clear signs of a recovery in domestic demand and the government's willingness to resolve the household debt problem."

In the second quarter, the RBSI rose just one point from the previous quarter.

Snowballing household debt has been a major drag on private consumption. South Korea's household debt, including credit purchases, hit a record 1,359.7 trillion won (US$1.2 trillion) at the end of March.

Internet-based retailers were optimistic about their third-quarter outlook but numbers dropped slightly due to the nation's annual rainy season and a continued heat wave. The RBSI for Internet shopping malls and home shopping channels came to 100 and 102, down 5 points and 2 points each.

Offline retailers, however, were downbeat. The index for department stores came to 91, 85 for large discounters, 93 for supermarkets and 87 for convenience stores.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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