Department stores, supermarkets and automakers all struggled in September, with their sales down for the fourth month running, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said Tuesday. The three sectors are weathervanes for domestic consumption.
Sales of department stores and supermarkets dwindled 0.1 percent from a year ago, and sales of domestic carmakers here shrank by 3.1 percent.
However, the decreases are leveling off. In August, department store sales dropped by 6.9 percent, supermarkets' by 3.3 percent, and domestic sales of carmakers 20.2 percent.
Strikes by auto unions and the Chuseok holidays, which fell later than usual this year, contributed to reduced consumption in August.
Kim Jung-kwan at the ministry said, "Prices are stable at the 2-percent level with positive employment conditions. Unless external risk factors resurface, there's a chance of a recovery in consumer spending."
But the ministry maintained a cautious approach to the overall economy. "Amidst fear of a continued global depression, it's taking a long time for domestic consumption and investment to recover."