Sales at big supermarket chains fell 3.3 percent last year from 2011, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said on Wednesday. Last month alone, their combined sales dropped 5 percent from a year earlier. Department stores fared better but also saw their combined sales retreat 0.3 percent from 2011.
Market researchers attributed the decline to weak consumer spending amid the economic slowdown. "As consumers have become thriftier, sales at major department stores also dropped," said a ministry official. "In particular, they saw sales of luxury clothing items and cosmetics decline."
At supermarket chains, sales of home appliances plunged 7.2 percent, followed by household items (2.1 percent) and sporting goods (0.6 percent).
Sales of fashion items such as accessories (3.1 percent), women's suits (6.2 percent) and men's clothing (5.3 percent) also eased off at department stores.