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Korea drive-thru stores gain popularity

Drive-thru stores, which first appeared in South Korea some 20 years ago, are suddenly finding favour with time-pressed consumers in more than just the fast food sector.

US fast food chain McDonald’s, which opened its first drive-thru store in Korea in 1992, says 187 of its stores – about half its network – feature drive-thru.

“We’ve seen a rise in customers using drive-thru stores in suburban areas,” said a company official, adding that the fast food chain plans to raise the portion of drive-thru stores to 70 per cent.

Other franchise chains are also expanding their Korea drive-thru stores. US coffee franchise Starbucks operates 34 drive-thru stores, while local fast food chain Lotteria runs 46.

The growing popularity of drive-thru stores has prompted non-food franchises to also open them. In April, Lotte Supermarket, an affiliate of retail conglomerate Lotte, adopted a drive-thru store where customers can do their grocery shopping.

The trend comes as retailers are grappling to secure new growth engines amid sluggish domestic demand and rising competition. With the exception of duty-free stores, most retail channels are facing slowing growth as consumers shop from overseas or shop online.

Original reporting by Yonhap.

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