The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Number of duty free store shoppers plunges to a record low in January

By Yim Hyun-su

Published : March 2, 2021 - 15:33

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Passengers walk past duty free stores in Terminal 1 at Incheon Airport. (Yonhap) Passengers walk past duty free stores in Terminal 1 at Incheon Airport. (Yonhap)
The number of shoppers at duty free stores stood at 343,983 in January, the lowest since the coronavirus crisis began to affect the South Korean economy last March, according to the Korea Duty Free Shops Association.

Some 280,000 South Korean nationals and 59,600 foreign nationals spent a 1.38 trillion won, the latest data from the association showed. The figure is down nearly 80,000 compared to December last year.

Sales, however, are up 16.7 percent compared to the previous month.

Compared to November when the number of shoppers at duty free stores stood at 643,564, January’s figure saw a drop of nearly 300,000.

The figure comes as duty free shops are among the worst-hit by the pandemic which dealt a severe blow to the tourism and aviation sectors.

Against this backdrop, the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced plans last week to cut the commission fee imposed on duty free businesses by 50 percent.

Incheon International Airport Corp. has also revealed plans to allow duty-free stores such as Shinsegae Duty Free and Grand Duty Free to expand in size by as much as 100 percent at the airport in an effort to keep the businesses afloat and avoid job cuts.

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)