South Koreans spent less in department stores and discount chains in September.
But other figures show they are spending more online offshore.
The Korean Trade Industry reports that sales at department stores run by Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai fell 6.3 per cent in September, year on year – the first fall since June. That’s the steepest drop since January 2013 and contrasts with a 10.5 per cent increase in spending in August.
And sales at major discount stores fell 10.1 per cent year on year.
The scale of the drop is partly explained by a shopping spree preceding the Chuseok holidays which fell on an earlier date this year than last. Traditionally, Koreans spend up before the season, then tighten the belts to compensate afterwards. But the figures were worse than finance ministry predictions.
Meanwhile, Korean consumers are predicted to spend more than 800 billion won (US$757 million) on foreign retail websites such as Rakuten and Amazon in the end of year shopping season ahead.
A new report ‘The Shopping Habit of Korean Consumers’ published by the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry says that as many as 57 per cent of 700 respondents polled said they had bought goods through foreign websites at least once during the past year. Their average spend was $827.
At that rate, it is predicted the whole year’s spending through overseas shopping sites will be 2 trillion won.
Historically, most Korean online shoppers have bought on clothing and accessories items, but the range of goods purchased has now expanded to home appliances and large-screen TVs as well.
Male shoppers buy more clothing (26.1 per cent) than anything else, followed by accessories (especially wristwatches and sunglasses; 19.6 per cent), cosmetics (13.9 per cent), bags and wallets (12.1 per cent), and furniture, electronic appliances and books (12.1 per cent).
Female shoppers are most likely to buy cosmetics (26 per cent), bags and wallets (16.4 per cent), accessories (15.5 per cent), clothes (13.1 per cent) and dietary products (11.7 per cent).