South Korea’s key retail sales on Sunday showed that private consumption in Asia’s fourth-largest economy remained sluggish in May at a time when exports are being dampened by a prolonged debt crisis in Europe.
Sales at the country’s top department stores in May grew 1.0 percent from a year earlier but fell short of making up for April’s 3.4 percent decline, data from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy showed.
Still, this was slightly better than a 0.2 percent decline initially estimated by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance earlier this month.
But discount stores saw their sales in May fall by a sharp 5.7 percent from a year earlier, marking the second consecutive month of decline year-on-year and suffering a deepening slump after a 2.4 percent drop in April, the data showed.
Finance minister Bahk Jae-wan said during a meeting with the heads of major local research institutions on Friday that domestic demand was improving gradually but cautioned that overall growth has yet to recover in a major way.
South Korean exports in May fell 0.6 percent from a year earlier, posting the fourth month of decline this year, as demand slowed from the major economies including China and the United States, customs data showed on Friday.