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Retail MarketBeat Report

Jinwoo Jung • 22/07/2022

High Street Vacancy in Second Drip Since COVID Pandemic

The retail industry environment, which had been suffering from COVID-19, has rebounded. Cushman & Wakefield data reveals the Seoul high street vacancy rate fell for the second consecutive quarter since the COVID pandemic. The average vacancy rate dropped to 23.7% in Q2 2022, down by 1.9 pp q-o-q. Foreign tourist arrivals are expected to increase due to the resumption of tourist visas and exemption from self-quarantine for overseas arrivals. Myeongdong showed a decrease in vacancy rate as cosmetics and fashion stores, which were hit hardest by the decline in foreign tourists during the COVID pandemic, recently re-opened stores. Hannam/Itaewon also recorded a noticeable drop, with the opening of the Nonfiction flagship store, as well as Minitmute, ESPRIT Experium, and other beauty and fashion brands. Cushman & Wakefield research analyzed passenger numbers at major subway stations from January 2021 to May 2022. As of May 2022, the number of people alighting at Myeong-dong, Hannam/Itaewon subway stations increased by more than 40% compared to the same period last year. Other subway stations also showed an average increase of more than 25 percent in disembarking passenger numbers. The recovery of retail industry is expected to begin in earnest in the second half of 2022.

Samcheong-dong District Resurrected With Full Opening of the Cheong Wa Dae

The Samcheong-dong district has grown with the expansion of international tourists since the Korean Wave, but has also experienced contraction due to a fall in Chinese tourists in the mid and late 2010s amid heightened international tensions, combined with gentrification and rising property values. However, the commercial district has again commenced a revival with the full opening of the Cheong Wa Dae, or Blue House. Family group and MZ generation visits in particular are rising. Lee Kun hee's art collection exhibition was a further incentive for local tourism. In line with the revival of the Samcheong-dong district, lifestyle beauty brand Nonfiction has opened its fourth flagship store. In addition, the E-Mart 24 pop-up store was opened for the target MZ generation with a collaboration of luxury brands and online games. As the state's transition to managing COVID-19 as an endemic condition begins in earnest, the revival of commercial districts such as Samcheong-dong, Seochon, and Bukchon near the Blue House is expected to continue for the immediate future.

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