The number of department stores in Korea hit 100 at the end of last year, according to data released by the Korea Chainstores Association on Friday.
The landmark number comes 85 years after Korea opened its first-ever department store, the Mitsukoshi Department Store Gyeongseong Branch, in 1930.
As of October this year, Lotte Department Store had the most branches, with 33 outlets, followed by E-Land’s NC with 19, Hyundai at 15, and Shinsegae at 12.
An interior shot of Shinsegae Department Store's main branch in Seoul (Yonhap)
Shinsegae opened two new department store branches this year with another one planned by the end of the year, including one in the giant shopping mall Starfield Hanam, bringing the total to 103. It was the only department store company to expand its number of branches this year.
Meanwhile, sales from department stores reached 30 trillion won ($25.5 billion) this year, up 4 percent from last year despite a sluggish performance from the overall retail sector.
Department stores in Korea have experienced significant changes, particularly over the past two decades, with consumers rapidly turning to e-commerce for simple shopping needs. Rather than being a destination on their own, they are increasingly opting to be a part of larger entertainment complexes, such as Starfield Hanam and Lotte World Mall in Seoul.
Through this strategy, department stores are expected to maintain steady profits for the time being, with strong sales in food and beverages and “expected increases in demand for apparel and luxury products” into next year, according to analyst Kim Keun-jong, writing for the Hyundai Securities Research Center.
By Won Ho-jung (email@example.com