The South Korean government is seeking to enable department stores and outlets to temporarily sell duty-free stores’ inventory to help the struggling operators, according to local news outlets on Friday.
According to news reports, major duty-free operators in Korea, including Lotte, Shilla and Shinsegae, held a meeting last week with officials from the Korea Duty-Free Shops Association and the Korea Customs Service to discuss the sale of bonded goods.
During the meeting, the duty-free operators were reported to demand that regulations on the sale of bonded goods be eased so that they can handle inventory, which is piling up without being sold.
The companies reportedly asked regulators to allow them to sell their duty-free inventory goods to Koreans through customs clearance. All remaining duty-free goods that are not sold are currently required to be incinerated or discarded.
The local duty-free operators are on the verge of bankruptcy due to the lack of foreign tourists and the sharp drop in the number of international passengers. According to the KDFSA, sales of local duty-free shops fell 45.5 percent on-month to 1.1 trillion won ($902 million) in February and sales in March are estimated to cut about half as much.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com