SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — 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 Tuesday its luxury goods section saw sales from global customers surge more than sixfold on-year in the past six months ending in January.
“The proportion of sales generated from foreigners grew to over 5 percent in the past six months at Galleria’s luxury goods section amid an increase in international travelers since the reopening,” a company official said.
The figure is a sharp rebound compared with less than 1 percent during the pandemic when travel demand fell from strict pandemic restrictions.
Before COVID-19, foreigners accounted for over 15 percent 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 percent 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 United States, 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 1,142.8 percent from a year earlier, it said.
Consumer transactions, or the amount spent per customer, also grew by 26.3 percent 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 travelers to South Korea.
A total of 539,273 inbound travelers arrived in South Korea in December, up 498.2 percent from a year earlier, data from the Korea Tourism Organization showed.