By Kim Jae-won
Lim Soo-hyang, a 32-year-old housewife in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, bought a costume of animation character "Captain Force" worth 35,000 won ($32) for her 5-year-old son's Christmas gift. She is also considering buying books worth 20,000 won for her 2-year-old daughter.
Lim is constrained by a tight budget meant to keep her four-member family going amid the economic downturn and rising consumer prices. All the same, she could not help but buy gifts for her children for the holiday season.
"My son waits for Santa Claus eagerly to deliver presents. I cannot disappoint him," she said.
Lim is one of many parents and grandparents who are willing to buy toys and dolls for their children and grandchildren for Christmas, shrugging off the economic downturn, industry data showed Tuesday.
According to Gmarket, the nation's biggest online retailer, its sales of toys over 50,000 won increased by 46 percent for the week between Dec. 11 and Dec. 17 from a year ago. In terms of toys with price tags between 40,000 and 50,000 won, revenue spiked 80 percent during the same period.
The local arm of U.S. online retailer eBay says it's because parents do not want to be stingy toward their children despite feeling the pinch.
"The rising sales of toys at this time illustrates that parents are generous in buying their children Christmas gifts though they are struggling to cope with the economic downturn," said Park Ji-eun, a manager of Gmarket's children's team.
Sales of bicycles for kids rose 70 percent, while building blocks also enjoyed a 60 percent revenue hike during the same period. For girls, dolls from Disney animations are popular.
To draw more customers, retailers promote children's items. Online retailer Auction is conducting a special promotion titled Blockbuster Christmas until the end of the year, which offers toys with up to a 78 percent discount.