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More free time leads to more beer and wine

July 21,2018
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Top: Chungjungone’s “Anjuya” series beef tripe hot pot, one of 18 microwaveable instant dishes that go well with alcohol. Bottom: Local company GRN’s hangover cure candy. [CHUNGJUNGONE, BGF RETAIL]
Alcohol sales and hangovers are on the rise in Korea as the changing work culture and the 2018 Russia World Cup combined to encourage more drinking in July and an apparent rise in the number of people rediscovering their homes as a place to hang out after work.

A change in the law this month enforced a 52-hour workweek for employees of large companies - for many people this means less work dinners and more time to drink at home. The increased amount of free time - combined with the rising number of solo drinkers and the knockout stages of the World Cup - has caused an unexpected uplift in sales of alcohol-related products this month.

Foreign beer sales at GS25 shot up 36.5 percent on-year between July 1 and Thursday, while sales of makgeoli, or rice wine, rose 20.5 percent and soju by 19.1 percent.

Sales of snacks that go well with alcohol increased as well. Beef jerky topped the list, up 34.8 percent on-year. Microwavable dishes like sausages and refrigerated pig’s trotters followed with an increase rate of 30.3 percent. Sales for chips, a popular finger food for beer drinkers, also rose 19.2 percent.

CU’s July sales figures showed an interesting increase in sales of hangover cures. Between July 1 and Wednesday, purchases of hangover cures rose 16.1 percent compared to the same period last year. Sales have been inching up over the last two months, with the year-on-year increase rate for May at 6.3 percent and June at 9.6 percent, but the pace of increase suddenly doubled in July.

“Hangover cures typically sell well in winter when parties and meet-ups [to celebrate holidays] reach a peak- it’s unusual to see sales jump up like this in the summer,” said a company spokesperson.

CU’s analysis was that the implementation of shorter working hours this month brought an increase of personal appointments that ultimately led to a rising need for hangover cures.

Sales also suggest an increase in the number of people looking to improve their homes, possibly looking to create a space to hang out in the evenings.

Ecommerce website Gmarket said that sales of alcohol-related goods jumped up between June 19 and July 18, increased by more than 50 percent compared to a year earlier.

Beer glasses, in particular, showed an impressive sales growth of 112 percent year-on-year.

Sales of wine glasses also increased by 14 percent, while sales of wine glass storage units rose by 36 percent and 30 percent more wine cellars were sold.

Furniture and interior decorations also sold more. Sales of kitchen island tables rose 30 percent, while bar stools also went up by 16 percent.

Special lighting - a category on Gmarket that includes unusual lighting options, including mirror balls - sales shot up by 150 percent compared to a year earlier.

“There’s been a spreading culture of drinking more at home and working shorter hours,” said a Gmarket spokesperson. “This seems to have boosted the sentiment to prepare the full package of glasses and interior decorations to really enjoy drinking at home.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON, YONHAP [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]