English III

Retail Trade Services


The rapid industrialization after the war brought improvement to the overall standard of living, fol- lowed by increased purchasing power and more de- mand for a variety of goods. As automobiles become readily available, the distance traveled to purchase goods as well as the amount spent on purchases per visit has increased. Safer online banking made elec- tronic shopping more readily available with easy access to the internet. The retail shopping patterns of Korean society have to respond to this socio-eco- nomic environment and the changes in consumer lifestyles. In the past, the retail structure was rela- tively simple, with corner grocery stores, traditional open air markets, and department stores; however, after the 1970s, retail became more diversi ed, and supermarkets, convenience stores, discount stores, and all-inclusive, one-stop stores were introduced, in that order.

Large scale department stores grew continuously in the early twentieth century by satisfying the demand for rare, high-quality goods. Total sales increased steadily except during times of economic depression; however, the number of establishments remained small. Convenience stores, although they have relatively small space and limited goods, have the advantage of long business hours and great accessi- bility. In the early 1990s, with the end of the Korean curfew system and the liberal and social atmosphere after the Seoul Olympics of 1988, convenience stores grew steadily. After a brief slump during the nancial crisis of 2009 the number of business establishments increased tremendously from 3,800 in 2000, to about 25,000 in 2013.

The large discount box stores, after their introduc- tion in 1993, went through the mediation of IMF. With the availability of automobiles and large refrig- erators, consumers’ shopping patterns have shifted toward rational, yet discounted, purchases. Long distance shopping trips, weekend one-stop shopping, and buying in bulk became new shopping behaviors that helped the growth of the discount box stores. Since 2000, the market for box stores has been sat- urated, so that the growth of box stores has slowed down. To protect the small retailers of the opening air markets, the government has proposed some pol- icies so that both small- and medium-scale retailers can coexist with the large, corporate-owned retailers.

While new retail venues such as convenience stores and large box stores grew, the traditional open air market lost its popularity in retail.