Credit card sales by Chinese shoppers at Lotte Department Store, South Korea’s No. 1 department store chain, soared during the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year as more Chinese tourists went on shopping sprees here in that period, Lotte said on Monday.
The portion of payment via China UnionPay cards reached just under 20 percent of all credit card payments at the flagship branch of the department store in downtown Seoul during the January-April period. This was more than double 9 percent from a year earlier, according to data by the department store.
China UnionPay, the only credit card firm in the world’s second-largest economy, is a key payment method for Chinese tourists.
An earlier poll by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed that more than two-thirds of Chinese visitors here preferred to pay with credit over cash.
The data also showed that Chinese tourists have emerged as big spenders for the department store. Their overall spending, including cash and credit payments, accounted for roughly 15 percent of total sales.
Recent data have highlighted the growing importance of Chinese visitors in the local tourism and shopping industries, prompting firms to unleash more promotion campaigns aimed at targeting travelers from China.
According to the KCCI survey, the number of Chinese people who visited Korea jumped 34.1 percent on average over the last five years.
In 2013, the figure topped 4.33 million, surpassing the number of Japanese visitors for the first time.
The poll also showed that around 39 percent of Chinese visitors spend more than 1 million won ($980.87) on shopping whereas 29 percent of Japanese spend an equivalent amount.
By Bae Ji-sook and news reports