Fewer convenience stores, noodle bars and other businesses are open around the clock in Korea as prices and overheads rise, and many other businesses are reducing opening hours as well.Store owners say lockdown reduced their nighttime business to a trickle and it has not recovered much since, while heating, lighting and staff costs have gone through the roof. Convenience stores, once a byword for 24-hour opening, are shortening opening hours. Some 19 percent of GS25 stores now close at night. Restaurants and bars, meanwhile, are increasing the number of days off and shut at certain times of the day.
One samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng) restaurant in southern Seoul has been closing on Monday since September. Lee Hyun-soo, the owner of the restaurant, said, "We use LPG in our kitchen, and the bill came out to around W1 million in December, which is twice as high as the previous year, while the monthly electricity bill also surpasses W1 million" (US$1=W1,255). "While sales are declining, fixed costs are surging and even the rent has gone up." The retail price of heating gas for commercial customers surged 57.6 percent on-year last December to W34.69 per megajoule. In a recent survey of small business owners by the Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise, 99 percent said heating costs are a drag on their business.