Korean supermarkets, department stores turn into leisure spaces

2024.02.19 16:00:03 | 2024.02.19 16:41:13

Tennis Metro [Courtesy of Lotte Department Store]이미지 확대

Tennis Metro [Courtesy of Lotte Department Store]

Major department stores and grocery chains in South Korea are evolving into multifunctional leisure spaces as consumers prioritize time as their highest value.

According to Emart Inc., The Town Mall KINTEX located in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, witnessed a sharp increase in the number of visitors, which exceeded 18 percent over six months from July 21 compared to the same period a year ago.

The surge is considered a positive outcome amid concerns about declining foot traffic in many large shopping malls.

Emart focused on enhancing leisure functions during the renovation process at The Town Mall KINTEX. The renovated space includes not only the existing Trader’s shopping facilities but also features experiential and stay-type facilities such as a golf academy, modern Pilates, and a comic cafe.

GDR Golf Academy on the second floor provides screen golf and personalized golf lessons concurrently.

The first-floor comic cafe boasts a collection of 25,000 books, including comics, novels, essays, and educational publications.

Various spaces like open shelves, cafes, and attic rooms have been designed to attract family visitors. Since the renovation, the number of customers staying for over three hours has more than doubled compared to before.

Emart anticipates that customers visiting for leisure activities will naturally extend their visits to Trader’s for shopping. The opening of The Town Mall by Emart marks the third experiential store, following the Wolgye and Yeonsu branches, with plans for nationwide expansion.

The retail industry is also making efforts to captivate sports enthusiasts.

In May 2023, Lotte Department Store opened the experiential tennis store, Tennis Metro, on the third floor of Lotte World Mall in Jamsil, southern Seoul, attracting tennis enthusiasts.

Notably, the store installed a full-size court, measuring 22m by 8m, making Lotte Department Store the only one in the country to have a full-size court inside. Tennis lessons at Tennis Metro have recorded a monthly completion rate of over 90 percent since its opening.

Lotte Mart operates futsal courts at a total of 10 stores, including ZettaPlex Jamsil and Seoul Yangpyeong stores, attracting social individuals who enjoy futsal and soccer. Reservations for 2-hour sessions are fully booked on weekends from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Enhancing functionality as an art appreciation space is another focus for large retail companies.

Hyundai Department Store opened the Alt One complex cultural space in The Hyundai Seoul in 2021. Equipped with a temperature and humidity-controlled facility equivalent to a professional exhibition hall, Alt One continues to host various cultural and artistic exhibitions.

The Hyundai Seoul is currently hosting an exhibition of Pompeii artifacts, featuring a collection of over 120 items, including sculptures and frescoes from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples.

The exhibition will run until May 6, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the historical treasures.

The department store also operates an LP and audio shop on the second underground floor, allowing customers to experience high-quality audio directly in a separate listening room.

The expansion of leisure facilities by large retail companies aims to provide experiences not possible with online spaces, competing with e-commerce while offering unique offline experiences.

The move responds to the changing consumer trends, with an emphasis on time efficiency, and addresses the rapid growth of e-commerce following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Online shopping transactions exceeded 227 trillion won ($170 billion) in the past year, setting a record high, according to Statistics Korea.

By Park Chang-young and Minu Kim

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