SEOUL, March 21 (Reuters) - Combined sales at South Korea’s top department and discount stores both fell in the first two months of the year as domestic consumption remained weak, revised government data showed on Thursday.
But sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae rose 1.7 percent in February from a year ago, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said.
February sales were up more than the annual 1.1 percent the ministry initially expected earlier this month, but still too meagre to meaningfully offset the 8.2 percent fall in department store sales posted in January.
The data showed department store sales fell 3.7 percent in January and February compared to a year ago, showing weak domestic demand despite major national holidays early on in the year.
Sales at the country’s top three discount store chains rose 8.9 percent in February over a year earlier, but combined with January fell 10.3 percent annually, the data said.
The data reflects policymakers’ expectations that growth in Asia’s fourth-largest economy will remain stagnant for the time being as domestic demand remains pressured and the yen’s rapid depreciation threatens to eat into South Korean exports. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Eric Meijer)