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Chinese shoppers buy more diverse range of Korean goods

With a surging number of Chinese tourists here, their shopping list are becoming more diverse to include sanitary napkins and rubber kitchen gloves, industry officials said Thursday.

China has been boasting of their growing appetite for air travel, luxury goods and other high-end products as the middle class expands rapidly in the world’s second-largest economy.

A typical shopping list for a Chinese visitor to Korea would include designer-brand bags, cosmetics, jewelry and clothes.

During Asia’s biggest holiday last week, however, the catalog appeared to be expanding to daily necessities, retailers in Seoul said.

Lotte Mart, a local discount store operator, said that about 60 percent of sales of a sanitary pads brand at its branch in downtown Seoul were generated from Chinese customers. Japanese shoppers accounted for 10 percent, Koreans the remainder.

Lotte officials attributed the surprising figures to herbs that are contained in the product, more commonly in cosmetics and food, that Chinese people favor.

The Seoul Station store saw a 15 percent on-year rise in sales from international customers on Jan. 20-24, Lotte officials said.

E-Mart, another supermarket chain, said it has also witnessed a spike in rubber glove sales at its branches near airports among Chinese travelers, who it said will often buy up to 10 pairs at once.

That largely resulted from soaring demand for higher quality kitchen goods as more middle-income earners do household chores on their own due to increasing housemaid wages, an E-Mart buyer noted.

The retailer said the number of foreign tourists visiting its stores have grown more than 20 percent in recent years.

More than 2.2 million Chinese visited here last year, spending $1,560 per person on average, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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