Region/Countries: Asia, South Korea Industry: Food and Beverage, Other Date: November 2018

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Growth is being driven by increased sales by online retailers and convenience stores.

According to local retail research institutes, due to social changes such as decreasing family size, aging population, and low birth rate, the retail sector is expected to log slow growth for 2018. Meanwhile, the market size of Korea's retail industries for major purchasing channels for food, including department stores, hypermarkets, CVS, supermarkets and online, but excluding gas stations and other, reached $206 billion in 2017, an increase of 16 percent from 2015. South Korea's retail market has constantly grown over the last three years, with a 7.7 percent compound annualized growth rate (CAGR) from 2015 to 2017. Hypermarket chains have been a main channel for purchasing groceries in South Korea for the last decade, recording $33.8 billion in sales in 2017. Also, as the most notable channel among other retail, online shopping malls (or online sales) grew significantly in the last three years, achieving 35 percent growth from 2015 ($16.5 billion) to 2017 ($22.2 billion). According to the December 2017 issue of Retail Magazine, the growth of South Korea’s retail sector is mainly driven by increased sales through online retailing and convenience stores.

South Korea's leading retailers, mostly the nation's largest conglomerates, operate several retail businesses simultaneously. For example, Lotte Shopping, the largest retailer, has department stores, hypermarkets, CVS stores, home shopping and online businesses. The following are top retail companies in each sector, according to the 2017 Retail Business White Paper published by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For Hypermarket Chain was introduced to Korea in 1993, and the main users of hypermarkets are people in their 30s and 40s with families. Hypermarket chains have been the largest shopping channels, since they provide competitive prices on foods and household products, while also offering private label products. Currently, E-mart, Homeplus, Lotte Mart and Costco Wholesale Korea Ltd are South Korea’s leading hypermarket chains. In addition, it is noted that Lotte Department Store, Hyundai Department Store and Shinsegae Department Stores sell more high-end products with higher retail prices. Meanwhile, with the current slow economy, department stores logged negative growth in 2014 (-0.23 percent) and 2015 (-0.06 percent), according to Statistics Korea, while 97 department stores in all are operated nationwide in Korea (as of 2015). According to the South Korean government, 14.3 percent of sales of the top three department store chains were made from the food sector in 2014.