Luxury Labels Help Malls Weather Coronavirus Pandemic

  • By Byun Hee-won

    January 23, 2021 08:27

    Department stores have managed to weather some of the devastation of lockdown with sales of luxury labels, for which Koreans' appetite is undiminished.

    Only nine out of 67 department stores managed to increase their profits amid the coronavirus pandemic. The others suffered because a growing preference for online shopping was exacerbated by lockdown. But those that sell luxury labels fared well, with customers forming long lines even before opening to indulge in socially distanced spending sprees.

    Shinsegae Department Store's overall sales declined 4.7 percent last year, but the Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton outlets at its Gangnam and downtown malls in Seoul as well as Centum City in Busan saw sales grow five percent, 0.5 percent and 7.5 percent.

    Hyundai Department Store's flagship emporium and Galleria Department Store's branch in swish Apgujeong-dong are known for their lineup of Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and sales increased.

    The only department store selling luxury brands whose sales dropped was Lotte Department Store in Jamsil, down 3.3 percent.

    People wait in line to shop for luxury goods in a department store in Seoul on Jan. 17.

    Jewelry and watch sales also increased sharply. Hyundai Department Store in Pangyo, whose sales surged 9.4 percent, has stores selling Cartier, Tiffany, Bvlgari and Piaget watches and jewelry. Other luxury label sales there soared 23.3 percent, but sales of jewelry jumped 50 percent and of watches 25.9 percent.

    Lotte Department Store's branch in Incheon, the only one of its stores whose profits grow last year (1.8 percent), managed to pull off the feat thanks to luxury watches. The airport emporium has nine luxury watch outlets, ranging from IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Hublot.

    It seems many Koreans who were unable to travel abroad chose to spend their money on luxury treats instead. "Newlywed couples tended to spend more on jewelry instead of honeymoons abroad," one staffer said.

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