SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Korea Bizwire) – The unusually warm weather has hurt retailers’ sales of everything from winter coats to snow boots, while boosting sales of outdoor sportswear and camping gear, industry officials said Monday.
December was the warmest month on record in South Korea as an unusually strong El Nino effect has been heating up the globe, and the change has carved a chunk out of retailers who rely on the weather for clothing sales. Annual ice fishing festivals were canceled across the nation.
E-Mart, the nation’s leading discount store chain, said winter clothing sales fell 11.4 percent in December from a year ago, while heaters and heating pads tumbled 31.3 percent. Scarves, gloves and other cold-weather accessories also took a hit from the mild weather.
In contrast, outdoor sportswear and gear enjoyed unusually high popularity.
Sales of sporting gear sales jumped last month, with camping equipment rising 45 percent on-year.
“Sales of winter clothing tumbled due to the unusually high temperature in December, while meat and home meal replacement related to camping and outdoor activities rose,” said Choi Hun-hak, a marketing manager at E-Mart. “We will prepare discount events for winter-related items as the warmer-than-usual winter is expected to continue in January.”
The Korea Meteorological Administration has forecast mild weather throughout the winter.
At Lotte Mart, No. 2 discount chain, sales of winter clothing sales and snow removal equipment decreased 21.6 percent and 23.9 percent, respectively.
Sales of winter-related items at major department stores have also failed to take off this winter, in a stark contrast from the last season’s down padding frenzy.
Lotte Department Store said winter clothing and fur coat sales slipped 5.4 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, in December compared with a year earlier.
Instead, light padding jumpers and down vests have fared relatively better than usual, while golf wear showed double-digit growth as the ground remain unfrozen most of the time.
“Clothing sales, which are highly dependent on weather, are struggling due to the unexpected warm weather,” said Yoon Young-hoo, a men’s sportswear manager at Lotte Department Store.
“Although golf and outdoor sportswear are usually popular in the spring and fall seasons, they are posting robust sales during the peak winter season.”