Retail sales expand in March
Sales at major discount chains and department stores rose in March from a year earlier on growing demand for sporting items and groceries, a government report showed Thursday.
Combined sales of the country's three major discount chains rose 3.2 percent last month from a year earlier, a turnaround from the previous February's 6.4 percent contraction, according to the report by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Sales at the discount chains grew mainly in sports items, household goods and groceries. Sports and household goods grew 5.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, with groceries posting gains of 5.8 percent. Groceries accounted for 54.7 percent of all sales in the cited month.
Sales at department stores also rose 1.6 percent over the same period, but their growth rate slowed from the previous month's 2.9 percent gain, the report showed.
The slowing growth was attributed to sluggish sales of clothing.
Luxury good sales at department stores jumped 27.0 percent, with those of children's sports items gaining 15.7. Groceries sales were up 12.0 percent from the year before.
The monthly report is used as an indicator of South Korea's consumer sentiment, although it does not provide the monetary sums of sales by the three department stores -- Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai. The three discount chains surveyed were Lotte Mart, E-Mart and Homeplus. (Yonhap)