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According to Yonhap News,
(SEOUL=Yonhap News) Sales at South Korean duty-free stores reached a new record high last month, industry data showed Tuesday, despite a sharp drop in the number of tourists following a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over a United States anti-missile system.
Sales of local duty-free operators came to US$1.56 billion in March, up 67.4 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Duty Free Shops Association.
Among the total, sales to foreigners were $1.26 billion, up 90.2 percent on-year.
Industry watchers said the latest increase is largely attributable to small-scale Chinese traders who purchase local products in bunches to meet the demand for Korean items in the neighboring country amid a plunge in the number of Chinese people traveling to South Korea.
The average purchase amount by foreigners soared 48.6 percent on-year to reach $801 last month.
Despite rising sales, local duty-free operators said they experienced tough times due to tumbling profitability in the face of more heated discount competition meant to attract customers.
The number of Chinese nationals who visited South Korea stood at 4.16 million last year, down 48.3 percent from 8 million tallied the previous year, according to a separate government data. Chinese nationals accounted for nearly half of the 17 million foreigners who visited South Korea in 2016.
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Source: Yonhap News (Apr. 24, 2018)