S Korea May dept store sales revised down, still at 3-mth high

SEOUL - Sales at top South Korean department stores in May grew less than earlier reported, revised government data showed on Sunday, but the annual gain was still the best since February.

The trade ministry said sales at department store chains run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co rose 3.1 per cent from a month earlier. Preliminary data showed a 3.6 per cent rise.

The ministry said sales in May, the second straight month of gains, were boosted by demand for apparel.

The same data showed discount store sales in May edged up 0.5 per cent, revised up from a preliminary 0.3 per cent gain released earlier.

This compared to a marginal lift of 0.02 per cent in sales in the previous month, the ministry said. The statement added that purchases managed to rise thanks to discount sales, while sales of non-food items such as televisions and baby products fell on weak demand.

Retail numbers in June are expected to be worse due to the ongoing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which peaked early this month, sparking fear among South Koreans and keeping them from spending.

Preliminary June retail sales data will be released in early July.

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