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Retailers woo solo drinkers with 'honsul' gift sets

South Korea's retailers are wooing solo drinkers with gift packages targeting single households as a growing number of people have opted to live alone in recent years, industry sources said Tuesday.

Eating and drinking alone have taken root as a new normal in a society that has seen a steep rise in the number of single-person households. 

The percentage of those living alone stood at 27.2 percent in 2015 and is expected to rise to 29.6 percent in 2019 to become the most common household type in the country for the first time, according to government data.
 
A portfolio of miniature alcoholic beverages from a Shinsegae gift set for solo drinkers (Yonhap)
A portfolio of miniature alcoholic beverages from a Shinsegae gift set for solo drinkers (Yonhap)

The number is forecast to rise to 36.3 percent in 2045 due to the country's low birthrate and rapidly aging population.

Shinsegae Department Store said it has introduced a variety of traditional Korean alcohol gift sets with a 125 milliliter bottle for easy consumption by solo drinkers, or the "honsul tribe."

"We are introducing premium products made with luxury food materials to catch up with the trend in which a growing number of people enjoy eating and drinking alone," Kim Sun-jin of Shinsegae Department Store said.

E-Mart, the country's largest mega-sized discount store, said it is also marketing a series of gift packages of imported beer for the honsul tribe priced at around 50,000 won ($44).

"Imported beer has emerged as a strong competitor in the Chuseok gift set market," Shin Jung-geun of E-Mart said. "Drinking beer at home has become a new trend as the number of households with one or two persons has increased recently."

The proportion of imported beer sales at E-Mart surpassed 51.2 percent during the first half of this year, although the figures were 25.1 percent and 42.4 percent in 2012 and 2016 each. (Yonhap)
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