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Korean health and beauty retail plunge for first time in 2020

The pandemic caused 31 health and beauty stores to close, as consumers switch to online shopping 

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The number of prominent retailers’ beauty stores in South Korea plunged for the first time in 2020, as consumers shifted towards e-commerce during the pandemic, reported The Korea Herald 

As of December last year, South Korea’s three biggest health and beauty chains, Olive Young, lalavla, and LOHB’s, had a total of 1,484 outlets across the country, 31 stores down from a year earlier, based on data released on the electronic disclosure system of the Financial Supervisory Service.  

Retail conglomerate CJ Group manages industry leader Olive Young, with Lotte Shopping Co. and GS Retail Co. running LOHB’s and lalavla, respectively.  

Lotte Shopping said that the data published on their websites and business reports enabled them to calculate the number of health and beauty shops in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

In their estimation, LOHB’s outlets dropped to 101 in 2020 from 129 in 2019 at a recent regulatory filing. GS Retail also disclosed that the number of lalavla stores shrank to 124 from 140 during the same period. 

Last year’s plunge was a contrast from the steady increase in the past few years. In 2019, the number of such local shops increased to 1,515 from 1,488 in 2018, 1,358 in 2017, and 1,014 in 2016.  

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However, the pandemic has heavily affected these health and beauty chains, inducing consumers to switch to online platforms, leading brands to downsize in a turnaround from their intense competition to launch more outlets.  

For instance, Olive Young’s online sales rose by 62 percent in 2020 from a year earlier.  

Moreover, the drop in physical stores is also a result of domestic and foreign cosmetics makers increasingly collaborating with local portals to directly sell their products online.  

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