As more companies allow their workers to come to the office in relaxed business attire, department stores are seeing necktie sales plummet.
Lotte Department Store said that its tie sales were down 16 percent as of August compared to the first eight months of 2012. When measured against the same period five years ago, demand had fallen by and even bigger 30 percent. It recently halved the number of its tie stores to deal with the fallout.
Rival department stores have not fared much better, with Hyundai seeing sales contract 10.8 percent and Shinsegae 9.7 percent from last year.
Demand for men's suits is also edging down, with all three stores reporting that business suit sales have fallen by over 5 percent this year. On the other hand, sales of business casual clothing like blazers and khaki pants have jumped nearly 10 percent.
Lotte expects business casual attire to account for 75 percent of the men's clothing market by 2018, up from 57 percent at present.
Tie sales first took a hit when Samsung Group relaxed its rules on office wear in 2008.
Meanwhile, the market for men's accessories such as scarves, handkerchiefs, belts and socks is booming. "People who used to smarten their appearance by wearing a tie are now sprucing themselves up with colorful shirts or other accessories these days," a department store staffer said.