South Korea’s convenience stores are enjoying reinvigorated boom period as they are now responsible for an everyday meal in a society with increasing single-living population and working couples.
The segment is the only retail sector that has been expanding in double digits in recent years in a country where department stores have been in a lengthy stagnation amid slow-moving economy.
According to the Korea Association of Convenience Store Industry, combined sales from convenience stores across the nation reached 20.4 trillion won ($18 billion) last year, up 18.6 percent from the previous year.
The Seven-Eleven shop in Songpa district in Seoul that opened in May 1989 was the first convenient store. Sales reached 10 trillion won milestone in 2011. The growth picked up in recent years. Growth accelerated to 24.3 percent in 2015 from 7.8 percent in 2014.
As of the end of last year, convenience stores tallied at 32,611 shops, up 12.5 percent from a year ago.
Bestsellers were hot coffee and meal boxes as a store at every corner served to be an ideal place for a quick bite and drink for singles and students juggling several cramp school classes after school.
The food was the biggest driver behind its revenue growth for CU. Sales of meal boxes shot up by 168.3 percent, coffee 81.2 percent, microwave meals 97 percent. At GS25, sales of coffee expanded at the fastest pace of 242.7 percent while those of meal boxes and microwave meals soared 176.9 percent and 119.1 percent, respectively.
Coffee sales skyrocketed 400 percent on year and microwave meals 376.8 percent at Seven Eleven Korea stores.
Department stores stayed stagnant for the last five years, underscoring meager improvement in income and economy. Their sales added 2.4 percent on year to 29.9 trillion won.
By Park Eun-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]