Heatwave boosts retail sales in South Korea

People avoid the hot weather under a bridge at the Cheonggye stream in Seoul, South Korea, on July 24, 2018.
People avoid the hot weather under a bridge at the Cheonggye stream in Seoul, South Korea, on July 24, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL - Sweltering heat affecting South Korea is boosting sales of local retailers as people flock to air-conditioned malls to get relief, industry sources said on Wednesday (Aug 1), with the mercury expected to rise further in the coming days.

According to retail giant Lotte, 4.22 million people visited Lotte World Mall in eastern Seoul in July as of Sunday, up 14 per cent compared with the same period a month earlier, Yonhap news agency reported.

The company said the mall's sales in July rose 12 per cent compared with the previous month.

Lotte Department Store's sales from July 20 to 28 also spiked 10.9 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier.

According to another major retailer Shinsegae, a daily average of 100,000 to 110,000 people visited its shopping complex Starfield in Hanam, just south-east of Seoul, on weekends last month, up 10 to 20 per cent from its usual average of 90,000, Yonhap reported.

Shinsegae Department Store also saw its revenue from July 16 to 30 surge 11 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, with home appliances, among others, showing a brisk sales growth of 30.8 per cent on-year, it said.

The latest sales surge came as a scorching heat wave gripped the country with Seoul's temperature reaching 38.3 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, its second-highest level on record.

 
 

The country's weather agency forecast the capital city could reach an all-time high of 39 deg C in the coming days.

Twenty-seven people have died of heat stroke and more than 2,200 people have been taken to the hospital for heat-related conditions as of Tuesday, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

This year's number of heat casualties appears to have jumped from last summer when 1,574 patients and 11 deaths related to heat were reported.

South Koreans are also enduring days of tropical nights, during which the lowest temperature remains above 25 deg C from 6pm to 9am the next day.