Seoul's main shopping street of Myeong-dong is emptying as Japanese shoppers make their way home in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday. "Normally, I speak Japanese 70 to 80 percent of time and Chinese 20 to 30 percent during sales hours, but the ratio was reversed last weekend," one salesperson said.
Nature Republic's Myeong-dong outlet, Korea's largest cosmetics store, says custom is in sharp decline. An average of 1,500 Japanese tourists visited the shop daily on weekends, but the figure dropped by 20 percent on Saturday and 40 percent on Sunday.
And Amore Pacific's Hannule Jung Spa, whose customers are usually 70 percent Japanese at weekends, saw 30 percent of bookings made by Japanese customers cancelled largely because they were unable to get away. More than 50 percent of bookings by Japanese guests were also cancelled at the Royal Hotel in a single day.
The situation is similar in Namdaemun Market. Salespeople who used to lure Japanese tourists in Japanese just sat in their chairs without doing much. Some companies reportedly called for emergency meetings to fill up the void with tourists from China and Southeast Asia.