South Korea June dept store sales revised down to worst on record from MERS

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Published: July 29, 2015 8:56:49 AM

Sales at top South Korean department stores in June fell more than reported earlier to mark the worst drop on record, revised government data showed on Wednesday, as an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) prompted consumers to cut spending.

Sales at top South Korean department stores in June fell more than reported earlier to mark the worst drop on record, revised government data showed on Wednesday, as an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) prompted consumers to cut spending.

The trade ministry said sales at department store chains run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping  and Shinsegae Co fell 11.9 percent from a month earlier.

Preliminary data had shown a 10.7 percent fall.

The same data showed discount store sales in June dropped 10.2 percent, revised down from a preliminary 9.7 percent decline released earlier. It was the steepest drop since an 18.3 percent decline in January this year.

Both declines were attributed to the spread of MERS which intensified in early June, keeping South Koreans away from crowded areas such as stores and malls for fear of contracting the disease.

South Korea declared on Tuesday it is now effectively out of danger from MERS, which killed 36 people.

The outbreak dealt a heavy blow to an already-tottering economy, knocking second-quarter growth to its worst in more than six years as thousands of schools closed, consumers stayed at home and tourists cancelled trips.

The statement from the trade ministry said sales dropped the most in the first two weeks of June, but purchases started to recover in the third week.

Sales at department store sales slid 11.7 percent on-year in the first two weeks of June, compared to a 6.4 percent fall in the following two weeks.

The data also showed department store sales rose 1.2 percent in annual terms from July 13 to 26 as fear of the virus subsided.

Preliminary July retail sales data will be released in early August.

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