Not long ago, a scene unfolded in front of the Seongsu branch of E-Mart. As soon as it opened, people flocked to it, and by 10 am, the line numbered over 100. It was a procession trying to get there first to the shoe discount event which was supposed to start at 10:30.
At the event held with the multi-brand shoes ‘Smarket’, shoes from famous brands such as Nike, Adidas, Fila, Reebok, and Puma were sold at a discount of up to 90%. Some products appeared in 10,000 won. According to E-Mart on the 23rd, it was calculated that around 1,500 people visited the event on the 15th, the first day of the event.
“Grab the dangling Nike shoes”…‘Open run’ in large supermarkets
The ‘Dingling’ event in major markets is booming. Frozen fruit sells much better than fresh fruit on the shelf. Vegetables such as green onion, red pepper, and onion also grew by 37% compared to the previous year for frozen products from July to the 18th of this month. Among household appliances, only the air fryer, which is optimal for heating frozen products, records positive sales. These are aspects of the use type of bitter recession.
As a result of analyzing the products sold at E-Mart, sales of frozen dumplings, a representative of frozen processed food, increased by 16% compared to the previous year after July despite out of season in the summer. Total sales of frozen processed foods such as frozen pizza and donuts rose 17.1%.
They found that the demand for frozen products is ahead of that of biological products even for fresh food, which places importance on freshness. Frozen fruit increased by 8.1% compared to fresh fruit which increased by 1%. Blueberries are one of the most popular fruits. During the same period, sales of frozen blueberries increased by 12.1%, but imported raw blueberries fell by 10.2%. At E-Mart, 1.5 kg of frozen blueberries from the United States are sold at 14,800 won. A product of 310g of raw blueberries from the United States costs 8,980 won. When converted per 100g, the price difference for frozen and fresh is 986 won and 2897 won, respectively.
An E-Mart official explained, “The sales rate of frozen vegetables is also increasing rapidly. Mixed products such as stews, fried rice, and ramen are popular.” It is economical because you can get several types of vegetables in one product without having to buy every vegetable needed for cooking. The advantage of frozen vegetables is that they can reduce the handling process and are convenient. From July to the 18th of this month, the sales growth rate of frozen vegetables reached 37%, while the growth rate of general vegetables was only 5.6%.
A recession type food culture to eat in the freezer
E-Mart’s own brand, No-brand frozen Korean beef, is also popular among Korean beef, synonymous with premium products. Sales of unbranded frozen Korean beef, such as frozen soup stock, frozen bulgogi, and frozen pork belly for roasting, increased fourfold (307.1%) from the same period last year from July to the 18th of this month. The price of 1 package (250g) of Korean Dim Brand first grade frozen marbled beef is 23,680 won, or 9,472 per 100g. It is around 26% cheaper than chilled marbled beef (12,880 won per 100g).
The same goes for domestic frozen pork. It increased by 97.6% compared to the previous year. One pack (800g) of frozen pork belly from E-Mart is 18,480 won, or 2,310 won per 100g. It is 22% cheaper than the regular price of chilled pork belly (won 2980 per 100g). During the same period, the growth rate of raw pork was only 0.6%.
The fact that the food in the deli corner of large supermarkets is selling like wings is interpreted as a sign of recession. For example, sushi has grown by 17.9% since July. E-Mart Assorted Premium Sushi (18 pieces), which includes popular sushi such as salmon, flounder, sushi and eel, is 21,980 won, or 1221 won each.
In addition, E-Mart’s total sales in the deli category increased 19.8% since July, including barbecues 34.6%, fried foods 29.8%, pork feet sundae 21.5%, and salads 55.6%.
The recession is also changing coffee habits. Blended coffee sales, which have been steadily declining due to the high-end coffee flavor, are turning around this year. Blended coffee sales at E-Mart decreased by 13.9% in 2020 and 6.5% in 2021, but this year (January-August) instead increased by 6.0%. Since July (July 1 to September 18), it has increased by 7.0% and is still growing.
Home cafes are also on the rise. Since July, sales of E-Mart coffee machines have increased by 33.1%, and coffee beans have also increased by 8.7%. Peacock Brazil Serrado Enwaitu 1kg (whole beans) costs 19,800 won, and assuming that about 10g of beans are used for a cup of coffee, the cost of beans per cup is about 200 won.
An air fryer, a large household machine that flies away, is booming
Home appliances, which are highly representative products that need to be considered before making a purchase decision, are also gaining strength in their own brands as the influence of price increases. An E-Mart official explained, “Sales of major home appliances have plummeted. From July to the 18th of this month, air fryer sales increased by 5.8% compared to the previous year. In the case of microwave ovens that can act as air fryers, ovens and microwaves, it increased by 16.8%.
Even when buying large household appliances, the tendency to favor PB products is also becoming clearer. A typical example is television. PB products are becoming more popular in supermarkets. At E-Mart, the share of its own brands, which accounted for 37% of total TV sales in the first quarter of 2022, increased to 39% in the second quarter, and rose to 45% in the third quarter (July 1 to September 18).
Two E-Mart self-branded Android TV sets launched in mid-July have already sold 4,000 units. During this period, one in four customers who bought a TV from E-Mart chose Android TV, a PB product. Android TV (43-inch) is 319,000 won, Electroman Android TV (55-inch) is 549,000 won, half the price of similar TVs from Samsung and LG Electronics.
By Park Dong-hwi, firstname.lastname@example.org staff reporter