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100 large stores closed Sunday under new law

More than 100 supermarkets closed on Sunday in accordance with a new law aimed at protecting small retailers, according to media reports.

E-Mart, Korea’s biggest supermarket chain and part of Shinsegae Group, closed 44 of its 137 retail stores nationwide, while Homeplus, part of British retailer Tesco, shut 44 stores. Lotte Group’s Lotte Mart, meanwhile, closed 30 of its chains.

The number of stores closed on Sunday accounts for 32 percent of the total owned by the big three conglomerates.

Some smaller supermarket chains ― often dubbed “super supermarkets” ― such as Lotte Super and Homeplus Express also closed their doors to shoppers.

The moves follow a legislative revision early this month to cut operating hours of big retail chains to protect mom-and-pop stores.

Industry analysts expect the country’s top three retailers, whose combined sales reached about 37 trillion won ($32 billion) in 2011, could see a loss of some 200 billion won if they close two days a month.

By Park Hyong-ki (hkp@heraldcorp.com)
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