Discount stores face obligatory shutdowns on Sundays, holidays
By Kim Rahn
Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) plans to force discount stores to close two days per month on either Sundays or holidays in line with the revision of a related law.
The city government said Tuesday it had recommended its 25 district offices to designate these days to order large-sized discount chains and “super supermarkets (SSMs),” or scaled-down versions of their outlets, to close.
The recommendation follows its previous order for the ordinance changes last month in order to boost business at smaller mom-and-pop stores and traditional markets, which have lost customers to the retail giants.
“Each district will decide which Sunday or holiday to pick for the mandatory closure. Those stores will also not operate around the clock and will have to close between midnight and 8 a.m.,” a city official said.
There are 64 discount stores and 267 SSMs in Seoul, with 88 percent of them operating without a holiday throughout the year. Almost all of them stay open until midnight, while 10 percent of them are open 24 hours a day.
Among the 25 districts, Gangdong was the first to adopt the forcible closure: Gangdong-gu Council passed the revision on March 6 ordering the shops to close on the second and fourth Sunday of a month as well as to close at midnight.
Stores will have to pay a 10 million won ($8,880) fine if they violate the regulation once; 20 million won for a second time; and 30 million won for a third.
However, it is likely to take more time for the ordinance to actually go into effect, as no detailed enforcement regulations have been approved.
“SMG will soon set up regulations and if the remaining 24 districts begin revision procedures now, they will be able to go into effect in May,” the official said.
He said the city and the districts will publicize the closure days on subways, buses and community boards, so that citizens will not be inconvenienced.