2 July 2024
The Weekly
South Korea

In a bid to differentiate themselves from online shopping platforms, South Korean department stores are undergoing significant transformations, focusing on experiential retail, premium offerings, and attracting younger consumers. At the Lotte Department Store in Jamsil, Seoul, the 10th floor audio section now boasts three listening rooms. Global audio brands Geneva and JBL Luxury, which entered the store earlier this month, each have their own listening rooms. Bowers & Wilkins, which arrived in December, also features a dedicated space. Together, these three brands occupy a premium audio complex spanning approximately 330m2, allowing customers to experience high-end sound systems in home-like environments. Lotte Department Store’s main branch in Seoul is undergoing its most extensive renovation since opening in 1979. The men’s fashion floor has been transformed into an international men’s fashion area, reducing the number of brands per floor but expanding each brand’s space. This creates a more spacious shopping environment. Lotte has also introduced unique experiential spaces. In early May last year, Lotte World Mall opened a 500m2 tennis equipment store featuring an actual tennis court.


Last September, dozens of eager shoppers lined up before opening time at the Shinsegae Department Store in Gangnam, Seoul. The excitement was for the debut of Emis, a rising fashion brand popular among young consumers. The brand’s coveted hats sold out on the first day.


Hyundai Department Store has also embraced this trend. In March, it renovated the children’s section on the fifth floor of its The Hyundai Seoul location, creating Epic Seoul, a 730m2 pop-up space equivalent to about 10 clothing stores. This area hosts various pop-up stores and serves as a rest area for shoppers.


Food courts and gourmet halls are another area of focus for department store renovations. Shinsegae Department Store’s Gangnam branch recently opened Sweet Park, the country’s largest dessert hall, in February. In early March, the store unveiled a premium food hall called House of Shinsegae near the JW Marriott Hotel. The supermarket and deli sections are also undergoing renovations. The competition to attract popular eateries is fierce. Lotte Department Store’s World Tower branch became the first department store to host London Bagel Museum in August last year, attracting over 150,000 visitors monthly.