Duty free sales in the Republic – the world’s biggest duty free market – rose by +8.55% month-on-month in April to KRW1.56 trillion (US$1.39 billion). That represents an approximate +72% year-on-year increase from last April’s US$804 million (itself a -54% year-on-year slump as the then fledgling COVID-19 pandemic began to take its commercial toll).
Once again the market was dominated by foreigners (mostly daigou traders), who accounted for 95% of sales (KRW1.48 trillion/US$1.32 billion, an increase of +9.3% month-on-month). The average transaction value per foreign customer reached an extraordinary KRW29.4 million (US$26,370), a reflection of the daigou-dominated business that Korean duty free has become.
Downtown sales accounted for the vast majority of revenue, reaching KRW1.48 trillion (US$1.33 billion). Airport sales, which remain heavily impacted by the pandemic, totalled just KRW9.7 billion (US$8.7 million).
Offshore duty free (domestic duty free sales to Korean nationals on Jeju island) reached KRW66.6 billion (US$59.8 million), with sales to foreigners on Jeju generating a mere KRW532,556,258 (US$478,000).
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