South Korean perfume sales surge despite shrinking cosmetics market

Happier times for South Korea’s cosmetics sales, when Chinese tourists flooded stores.

Perfume sales in South Korea have gone up despite the suspension of perfume testing at department stores.

Last December, South Korean retailers suspended all sampling of cosmetics at offline vendors in accordance with government regulations, which has led to a plunge in cosmetics sales at department stores.

Cosmetics sales at Lotte Department Store and Hyundai Department Store last month dropped by 22 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively, compared to the same month last year.

As protective masks have become a new norm, demand for colour cosmetics had already dropped before the new ban on the use of samples tightened consumption even further.

In contrast, perfume sales at the two department stores jumped by 34 per cent and 49.7 per cent.

“Consumers are replacing cosmetics with perfumes as a way of expressing themselves in the pandemic era,” Lotte Department Store said.

Bans on testing perfumes at offline vendors have led to a sales jump among online perfume sellers.

SI Village, a luxury shopping platform run by the country’s leading retailer Shinsegae Group, saw last month’s perfume sales jump by a whopping 772 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year.

Another major online shopping mall Gmarket saw a 711-per-cent spike in January sales of perfume, compared to the same month last year.

“More consumers are buying perfumes as they are beginning to use them as an everyday accessory,” an industry official said.

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