By Park Si-soo
A market research firm predicted seven mega trends will rule the nation's retail industry in 2013.
Taking one letter from each of the English-written trends, the firm associated with retail giant Lotte Group said Tuesday they could be summed up as G.N.S.T.Y.L.E.
The word that obviously echoes superstar Psy's hit song "Gangnam Style" refers to G (Global love for Korean Wave), N (Neo familism), S (Show-rooming), T (Treasure hunter), Y (missing Young-Days), L (Small luxury), E (Economic democratization).
Referring to G, the researcher said retail companies will step up efforts to expand next year by taking advantage of the overseas popularity of Korean culture. Sales hikes of products popular among inbound foreign travelers will also highlight the trend, it added. More than 10 million foreigners are expected to visit Korea next year. The forecast has encouraged companies to develop products that are designed to meet the needs of inbound travelers.
The researcher used N to describe a family with smaller numbers, saying products suitable for nuclear family households will gain popularity.
S indicates new pre-buying behavior of visiting offline store for first-hand check on quality of products, prices and other after-sales services. A growing number of people do the behavior before making actual purchase through Internet shopping mall.
"This poses an increasing threat to offline stores without online sales outlets," the researcher said. "Online outlets have become an essential part of the retail business."
T refers to purchase of products exclusively available at overseas stores using the Internet. The report said the trend is attributable to an increase in the number of people whose English proficiency is good enough to surf English-only shopping websites. It has gained further popularity as these websites sell products at lower-than-local prices.
Referring to Y, the researcher said the robust sales of items that were in vogue in the past will continue in the coming year.
Speaking of L, it said as household spending will continue to decline next year amid the prolonged economic slowdown at home and abroad, so will the general spending on luxury goods.
It's predestined that newly coined term "Economic democratization" or E will become the biggest buzzword next year. Under the slogan, the Park Geun-hye administration, which will kick off in February, is widely expected to introduce binding methods to contain the reckless expansion of retail giants such as Lotte and Shinsegae as part of efforts to ensure more income for small and independent mom-and-pop stores.