Sneakers are getting popular as more office workers wear them while commuting to and from work.
Lotte Department Store said on Wednesday that sales of casual shoes jumped 21 percent on-year, while the figure for dress shoes grew only 4.4 percent. At Hyundai Department Store, sales of jogging shoes rose 19.7 percent compared to 4.3 percent for more formal footwear.
Young office workers now often wear sneakers with semi-formal suits as rules about formality grow more relaxed. Similarly, students often bundle outdoor jackets over school uniforms and men wear padded jackets with formal suits.
The recession also plays a role. Running shoes can be bought for about W100,000 (US$1=W1,098), while dress shoes can be more than W200,000 at department stores. More consumers choose to buy sneakers because they are less expensive and can be worn on more occasions.
"Sales of clogs and mules jumped last summer because shoppers preferred shoes that cost under W100,000 and are comfortable to wear at many occasions," said Park Wan-su, a staffer at Lotte Department Store.
The popularity of sneakers is affecting the price of dress shoes as retailers launch sales to clear excess inventory after sluggish sales.
"When consumers choose shoes, they tend to consider comfort and cost first," said a department store staffer.