SEOUL (Reuters) — Sales at South Korea‘s top department stores rebounded sharply in February from the previous month, government estimates showed on Tuesday, reflecting this year’s change of timing for the Lunar New Year holiday.
This was the fastest gain for department store sales since a 10.5 percent rise seen in August last year and compared to a 11.0 percent drop in January, which was the steepest contraction on record.
Retail numbers are usually distorted at the beginning of the year as the Lunar New Year holiday, when consumers tend to splurge, can fall either in January or February. This year the holiday was in February while it was in January last year.
Sales at the country’s top discount stores also showed a sharp gain in February, jumping 30.5 percent on-year and bouncing back from a 18.3 percent drop in January.
The January decline was the sharpest fall seen since February 2014.
Meanwhile, the same data showed annual sales of locally produced automobiles last month slipped 3.8 percent, undermining a 3.9 percent gain in January.
Gasoline sales by volume last month rose 12.5 percent in annual terms, rising for a third straight month and picking up the pace from a 5.3 percent rise in January the finance ministry data showed.