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Seoul City retreats from sales restrictions for big retailers

The Seoul Metropolitan Government backed down from a controversial plan to ban major retailers from selling 51 everyday items.

The move, meant to redirect customers to beleaguered smaller merchants, had been criticized by customers, subcontractors and retailers alike.

Last month, the Seoul government announced a list of 51 products to be banned from sale in large stores. The metropolitan government reportedly said it would submit a bill to the National Assembly so that its recommendation would become legally binding.

“The ‘Retailer-Super Super Market Product Adjustment List’ announced March 8 was a part of the ‘Recommendation on Restriction of Select Product Sales’ policy. It was a result of pertinent research, and its implementation has never been confirmed,” said Choi Dong-yun, the head of Seoul City’s Department of Economic Planning at a briefing Tuesday.

He added that it was regretful that it had been seen as a confirmed list that applied to all major retailers, and that it caused significant concern among Seoul citizens.

Retailers had criticized Seoul’s latest recommendation, citing unnecessary municipal interference. Customers feared that shopping would become cumbersome, as they would no longer be able to buy all their items at one retailer store. Farmers, fishers and subcontractors who supply fresh food to big stores held protests, fearing bankruptcy should the bill come to pass.

“The recommendation policy will be applied only when large retailers expand their business or open new branches, and come in conflict with existing businesses. Also, the recommendation will not be applied if the stakeholders reach an agreement,” Choi added.

By Lee Sang-ju (sjlee370@heraldcorp.com)
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