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SEOUL, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Sales at South Korea's top department store chains fell slightly in December from a year earlier, revised government data showed on Thursday, reversing a small gain shown in the preliminary data released earlier this month.
Combined sales at stores run by the country's top three chain operators fell 0.3 percent in December from the year before, the worst performance since a 2.2 percent drop in October, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy data showed.
It followed a revised 5.3 percent annual gain in November and compared with a 0.3 percent rise given for December in the finance ministry's preliminary estimate.
At the country's top discount store chains, sales shrank by a revised 5.7 percent in December over a year earlier, versus a preliminary 6.0 percent drop.
The data underscores how domestic demand has yet to pick up in earnest in South Korea despite gradually improving exports, and highlights the challenge for policymakers to ensure the economic recovery takes hold this year. (Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Chris Gallagher)