S.Korea May dept, discount store sales snap 3-mth fall

SEOUL, June 10 Mon Jun 9, 2014 9:00pm EDT

SEOUL, June 10 (Reuters) - Sales at South Korea's top department- and discount-store chains both rose in May from a year earlier, finance ministry estimates showed on Tuesday, snapping a three-month run of losses and easing concerns about the strength of domestic demand.

Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co rose 2.0 percent last month from a year before, the ministry said in a report.

Sales at major discount-store chains also climbed by a combined 1.7 percent in May from a year ago.

It was the first time in four months that sales at both categories of retail outlets grew. The figures came amid concerns that consumer spending could be hit by a darkening public mood from the ferry sinking in mid-April which killed more than 300 people.

Anecdotal evidence has shown the disaster hurt domestic tourism and leisure spend. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Choonsik Yoo & Shri Navaratnam)