South Korean shopping, baseball, movies and art hit by MERS

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 1:12 AM

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean high street spending fell dramatically in the first week of June as fears over an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) kept shoppers at home, but online purchases rose, government estimates showed on Wednesday.

President Park Geun-hye postponed a U.S. visit to supervise the handling of the outbreak, as two more people died and 13 new cases were reported, lifting the total number of patients to 108.

Department store sales in the period fell 25 percent from an average of the first two weeks of May, the data showed. Sales at discount stores fell 7.2 percent, but online purchases rose 3.2 percent.

Cinema ticket sales dropped 54.9 percent in the first week of June from the year-earlier period. Visitors to amusement parks plummeted 60.4 percent and to baseball games, 38.7 percent.

Museums and art galleries suffered the same fate, with drops of 81.5 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively.

Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan asked South Koreans in a briefing on Wednesday not to be excessively worried and urged consumers to continue spending money.

(Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)