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Nondurables outsell durables in sign of slumped consumer sentiment

Non-durable goods sold better than sturdy but more expensive durables last year, state statistics showed Tuesday, another indication of downed consumer sentiment.

Sales of nondurables in 2016 increased 4.7 percent from the previous year, according to Statistics Korea, the most in nine years since 5.4 percent in 2007 at the height of the global financial crisis. Food and beverages led the rise with a 3.4-percent increase, also the highest since 6.3 percent in 2007. 

High demand for convenience store packaged food seems to have contributed heavily to the rise. Their sales jumped 15.6 percent compared to 6.6 percent in 2015.

Consumption of cosmetics and stationery also rose noticeably, statistics showed. Sales of cosmetics jumped 14.5 percent, the first double-digit increase since the agency started keeping records in 2005. Sales of books and stationery reached 5 percent, the first turnaround to the plus side in six years.

Figures for durable goods, with a longer lifespan but more costly, were weaker in comparison, marking a 4.3-percent increase.

The latest number is the lowest in three years.

Local car sales stopped at a 8.5-percent increase compared to 15.5 percent in 2015. This was in spite of lowered consumption tax in the first half of last year. The poor showing also affected imported vehicles, whose sales fell 8 percent.

Communication devices and computers fell into the minus.

Home appliances managed an 11.8-percent increase from record summer heat and government rebates, but it wasn't enough to hold up the entire market for durables.

"Convenience store food sales rose greatly last year, and online retail performance was also good," an agency official said.

"There was a base effect for cosmetics whose sales had slumped in

2015 from the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) contagion." (Yonhap)
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Korea Herald daum