The Korea Herald


Foreign shoppers flock back as pandemic nears its end

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Feb. 7, 2023 - 15:56

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The Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul (Yonhap) The Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, Seoul (Yonhap)

International shoppers are returning to South Korea amid eased virus restrictions, seeing sales rebound for local department stores.

Hanwha Galleria, the retail arm of the Hanwha Group, said on Tuesday that sales in the luxury goods section at the Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong, a posh shopping district in southern Seoul, had increased by 500 percent on-year between August and January.

Hanwha Galleria’s Apgujeong branch is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Gangnam-gu. Sales from foreign tourists at the branch is known to be the second-highest in the country, following those of the Lotte Department Store's main branch in the tourist district of Myeong-dong.

Hanwha Galleria added that the proportion of sales to foreign travelers has been recovering, although it has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels.

Hanwha Galleria said sales from international shoppers in its luxury goods section during the six-month period accounted for around 5 percent, rebounding from only 1 percent during the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the figures used to sit at over 15 percent, the company added.

By nationality, customers from China accounted for the highest number, followed by customers from Southeast Asian countries, the US and Japan in the August-January period, Hanwha Galleria said. Chinese shoppers spent some 3 million won ($2,400) per individual, the company added.

Lotte Department Store also reported an increase in sales at the company’s main branches in Myeong-dong and Jamsil. The company said their sales from international shoppers in the August-January period went up by 590 percent and 370 percent, respectively.

The Hyundai Seoul, located near Yeouido Station in western Seoul, has reported a dramatic growth in sales from overseas shoppers as well.

According to the department store, its sales from overseas shoppers increased by 1142.8 percent on-year over the last six months, ending in January. The amount spent per customer, also went up by 26.3 percent on-year, it added.

The Hyundai Seoul said the number of foreign travelers visiting its Yeouido branch is increasing in particular due to its pop-up stores featuring popular K-pop idol groups.