SEOUL, June 11 Sales at South Korea's top
department store chains edged up in May in annual terms,
preliminary data showed on Tuesday, underscoring still-shaky
consumer sentiment that has remained sluggish since last year.
Sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store
, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae
last month rose by 1.7 percent from a year earlier,
the finance ministry estimated, following a 1.9 percent fall in
Meanwhile, sales at the country's top discount store chains
fell 4.4 percent from a year earlier during May, following a 9.8
percent fall in April.
Discount store sales have lagged this year due to government
regulations, such as restricting operation hours, aimed at
boosting the earnings of smaller supermarkets.
South Korean households have grown more thrifty in response
to uncertain economic conditions and growing debt. Data released
by the Bank of Korea earlier this month showed that private
consumption shrank by a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent
on-quarter during the first quarter, contrasting with 0.8
percent overall gross domestic product growth.
The central bank's composite consumer sentiment index rose
to 104 in May from 102 in April, however, adding to hopes of a
sustained recovery for Asia's fourth-largest
The finance ministry also said on Tuesday that sales of
locally-produced automobiles fell 1.9 percent from a year
earlier in May, a sharp slowing from a 0.8 percent rise in
Gasoline sales by volume fell by 1.2 percent in annual terms
last month following a 6.5 percent rise in April.
(Reporting by Se Young Lee and Christine Kim; Editing by Shri