Number of South Korean Convenience Stores Skyrockets

The upswing is being driven by more single-person households, while BGF Retail Co. has added a delivery service.

January 04, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea – A proliferation of singles has become a major factor in the boom of convenience stores in South Korea, the Gulf News Retail/Bloomberg reports. Over the past five years, the number of c-stores has more than doubled to reach 32,000, according to the Korea Association of Convenience Store Industry.

Analysts mark single-person households as driving the trend. Statistics Korea predicts that single-person households will be roughly a third of Korean households by 2030, a sharp rise from 20% in 2005.

“Convenience stores have more appeal to single households compared to other local businesses such as supermarkets and drug stores,” said Kim Moon-tae, a senior researcher at the Hana Institute of Finance. Supermarkets sell products in larger packages, while drug stores have an emphasis on beauty care items.

“Single households can buy as much as they need at the closest convenience store without feeling restrained, wearing anything they’d like, 24 hours a day, and I think this is one of the factors helping convenience stores grow,” said Kim Chulsik, a researcher at Yonsei University’s Institute of East and West Studies.

Also fueling the trend is how convenience stores adapt to what singles need. A few years ago, c-store owner Park Byung-su added hardware products after specialty stores began closing. “Before then, most of our goods were just snacks,” he said.

CU, an 8,000-unit chain, has begun BFG Post, a c-store-specific delivery service, Retail News Asia reports. CU had operated CVS Net, which delivered parcels for CU and GS25 convenience stores. Now, GS25 will run CVS Net on its own.