The ripple effect of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is spreading throughout Korea's retail industry, including department stores, discount stores, restaurants, and cosmetic shops.
Amid rising concerns about possible infection by the MERS virus, an increasing number of consumers are avoiding crowded places, dealing a blow against the sales of offline stores, including department stores.
As the MERS crisis prolongs, the number of foreign tourists, including Chinese ones, declines, giving a negative impact on the cosmetics industry. According to industry sources on June 5, Lotte Department Store suffered an 8.4-percent decline in sales during the period from June 1 to 4, compared to a year ago.
Shinsegae Department Store also suffered a 3.7-percent decline in sales during the same period. E-Mart, the largest discount store in Korea, recorded a 7.8-percent plunge in sales during the period. In particular, its outlet in Dongtan and Pyeongtaek, in southern Gyeonggi Province where the highest number of MERS cases were reported, suffered a 19.7-percent and a 16.2-percent plunge in sales during the period.