SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- Retailers whose sales of gift sets for the Lunar New Year holiday dropped this year said Wednesday that the top-end presents, priced well over 1 million won (US$857), remained highly popular, a sign economists say attests to the economic gap in the country.
Lotte Department Store annually markets its "prestige L" limited gift sets, packaging premium-class beef, wine, fish and other foods. Twenty of 30 sets available for dried yellow croaker fish, priced at 3.6 million won, have already been sold, according to Lotte. Thirty sets of wine, costing 1.8 million won, have all been sold. Company officials said sales of the prestige line increased more than 6 percent from last year. The same firm earlier this week said sales of lower-end gifts, usually the more popular types, fell 1.2 percent from a year ago.
The Lunar New Year holiday is one of the peak seasons for retailers, as millions of South Koreans head to their hometowns with presents for family members and relatives. Industry officials said they noticed an across-the-board fall in gift sales this year, however, apparently from shallow pockets as the nation's economy is in a slump.
Hyundai Department Store was also seeing a gap in sales. Expensive gifts have sold 9 percent more for this year's holiday from last year, according to company officials. At Shinsegae, limited edition gift sets have long been sold out, including the 2 million-won croaker fish package, its officials said.
Presents being sold at luxury hotels have also been popular. The Plaza Hotel said its 3.5 million-won wine selection sets were sold as soon as they went on sale and 97 percent of its top-grade beef sets have been sold.
|A gift set of dried yellow croaker fish sold at Lotte Department Store for 3.6 million won (US$3,086) (Yonhap)|
"Premium gifts are usually purchased by high-income VIP customers," a retail industry official said. "The fact that such expensive gifts are being sold out, and not the middle-priced gifts, shows that the super spenders who are not affected by the country's economy are still alive and well."
Park So-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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