SEOUL, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Retail sales in South Korea reduced as domestic demand remained in the doldrums due to the sluggish economic recovery, a government report showed Thursday.
Total sales at the country's three major discount outlets, including E-Mart, Lotte Mart and Homeplus, fell 10.3 percent in the January-February period compared with the same period of last year, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Combined sales at the three leading department stores, including Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai, decreased 3.7 percent over the cited period.
The fall came amid the still fragile sentiment among South Korean consumers stemming from massive household debts, the flagging economic recovery and the real estate market slump.
In February, sales at the discount chains jumped 8.9 percent from a year earlier as the Lunar New Year's holiday boosted demand for foodstuffs. The holiday moved from January last year to February this year.
Grocery sales, which account for more than half of sales for the discount chains, gained 14.5 percent in February from a year ago. Demand for clothing and daily household goods rose 5 percent and 6.2 percent each, while sales of consumer electronics and sports-related items reduced 4 percent and 10.1 percent respectively.
As for the major department stores, foodstuff sales surged 55.1 percent last month. Demand for daily household goods and youth sporting items increased 3 percent and 2.3 percent each, while those for women's suits and women's casuals declined 19.8 percent and 5.5 percent respectively. Sales of men's clothing and foreign luxury brands fell 7.6 percent and 6.3 percent each.