South Korean department stores are enjoying a rebound in sales, as international shoppers return to the country amid eased virus restrictions.
Hanwha Galleria, the department store unit of Hanwha Group, said its luxury goods section saw sales from global customers surge more than sixfold on-year in the six months ending January 31.
“The proportion of sales generated from foreigners grew to over 5 per cent in the past six months at Galleria’s luxury goods section amid an increase in international travellers since the reopening,” a company official said.
The figure is a sharp rebound compared with less than 1 per cent during the pandemic when travel demand fell from strict pandemic restrictions.
Before Covid-19, foreigners accounted for over 15 per cent of sales at Galleria’s luxury goods section, the retailer said.
By nationality, Chinese customers accounted for the most, followed by Southeast Asians, Americans and Japanese, the department store said.
Similarly, Lotte Department Store’s main branch in the tourist district of Myeongdong, central Seoul, saw sales from foreigners grow 590 per cent on-year over the same six-month period.
“Before the pandemic, most international visitors were group tourists from China. But we are recently seeing more foreign customers of different nationalities, such as the US, Europe and Southeast Asia,” Lim Ji-eun, a spokesperson for the department store, said.
At Hyundai Department Store’s Yeouido branch, sales from foreigners jumped 1142.8 per cent from a year earlier, it said.
Consumer transactions, or the amount spent per customer, also grew by 26.3 per cent on-year.
The retailer said it plans to open various pop-up stores related to K-pop and the broader Korean culture while partnering with outside vendors to develop tour programs aimed at inbound travellers to South Korea.
A total of 539,273 inbound travellers arrived in South Korea in December, up 498.2 per cent from a year earlier, data from the Korea Tourism Organization showed.
The story was originally published on Korea Bizwire.