SEOUL-South Korea’s retail sales grew 8.4 percent in October, showing resiliency in a county rocked by political turmoil.
The Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced the figures Tuesday. Online shopping malls saw a rise in sales of 13.2 percent year on year, while offline shops grew at 6.3 percent.
Local department stores Hyundai, Lotte and Shinsegae department stores experienced a combined increase of 6 percent year on year, while discount retailers including Lotte Mart and E-mart saw an increase of 0.9 percent, the ministry said.
It appears that the nation’s “collective gloom,” instigated by a massive political scandal involving the president Park Geun-hye, has had little effect on consumer sentiment and local shopping habits– at least so far. Coverage of the scandal erupted in late October. On Tuesday, Park offered to resign from her post if the country’s national assembly deems it necessary.
The government has rolled out a series of strategic shopping events and campaigns that seem to be taking hold with shoppers. “Korea Festa Sale,” a month-long sales event held from between Sept. to Oct., encouraged visiting tourists to shop by offering discounts of up to 50 percent at duty free shops, select department stores and local retailers.
Similarly, this month’s “Singles’ Day” and “Black Friday” sales are expected to contribute to an increase in sales during November.
During an official televised speech from the presidential office on Tuesday, Park apologized to the public once again and expressed regret over her corruption scandal.
“If the ruling and opposition parties discuss and come up with measures to minimize the turmoil and the vacuum in state affairs, and ensure a stable transition of power, I will resign from [my] presidency according to [an] agreed timetable and legal procedures,” Park said.
Park and her long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil, are accused of extortion and the abuse of official power for personal gain. Local conglomerates SK Group, Samsung Group, Lotte Group and the state-run National Pension Service have also been mired in recent investigations over Park’s bribery and corruption claims.