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Business

Chuseok goes retro as fruit and meat sell fast

Sept 12,2018
A consumer passes by the Chuseok gift section at a discount chain in Seoul on Monday. [YONHAP]
From top: Lotte Mart’s avocado gift set and Galleria’s pet goods gift set. [LOTTE MART, GALLERIA]
With Chuseok less than two weeks away, supermarkets and department stores are once again filling their shelves with gift sets for the harvest festival. This year, shoppers are on the hunt for traditional favorites, agricultural goods and premium items.

Sending gift boxes to family and colleagues is a long-standing tradition for the Chuseok and New Year holidays in Korea. For decades, high-quality fruit like apples and pears and meat and fish like dried corvina and hanwoo, or Korean beef, were considered staple holiday presents. Their popularity waned in recent years as consumers shifted toward more exotic items like lobster and truffles.

Sales records of pre-orders at local retailers show that the old agricultural favorites are making a comeback this year. At Emart, which took pre-orders for its gift sets between Aug. 2 and Sept. 6, fruit was surprisingly popular - apples and pears sold 148.5 percent more than last year. Dried persimmon, a popular fall snack and a favorite Chuseok gift, also sold twice as many sets compared to last year.

Hanwoo sets saw revenue rise 60.6 percent year on year during the same period after a 0.1 percent decline last year. Dried corvina sales fell 4.2 percent last year but shot up 51.5 percent this year. Health-related goods like ginseng also proved popular - revenue for the popular sector grew 460 percent year on year.

A similar trend was found at other discount chains. Lotte Mart saw pre-orders of gift sets of health products rise 53.3 percent year on year in the last month. In recognition of such demand, Homeplus plans to extend the range of health-related gifts to 56 different sets this year from 42.

“Going retro has been a trend in many fields recently - it seems like it has reached the realm of gift sets too,” Emart said in a statement.

Expensive gift sets are also selling better this year. Hyundai Department Store, which received gift set pre-orders from Aug. 20 to Sept. 6., saw revenue from premium gift boxes priced over 500,000 won ($443) increase by 36.7 percent compared to last year’s pre-order period. Lotte Department Store prepared 10 700-milliliter (24.7-ounce) bottles of French cognac Louis XIII for Chuseok pre-order, and they sold out days ahead of the event’s close.

Like last year, there were also indicators that a lot of shoppers are still being careful to keep their purchases below the bar set by the antigraft law, although this year spending was slightly more generous thanks to the regulation being relaxed in January to raise the ceiling on agricultural gifts from 50,000 won to 100,000 won.

Emart said products priced between 50,000 won and 100,000 won doubled in revenue during pre-orders compared to last year.

Some retailers also tried to pull in customers by offering unusual gift sets targeted at younger shoppers.

Lotte Mart is selling avocado gift sets. A set of nine avocados will sell for 34,900 won starting from Thursday. Galleria is offering gift sets filled with premium items for pets, like a leash from a luxury German brand and a leather bag. Prices range from 130,000 won to 210,000 won.


BY KIM MIN-JOONG and SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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