China and South Korea are the two countries that recovered from COVID-19 the fastest, but their luxury market rebounds look quite different. Even though South Korea’s market and appetite for luxury are both smaller than China’s, understanding the similarities and unique differences between them can help brands with their regional post-COVID-19 merchandising plans. Below are some key takeaways from recent industry reports.
Because the virus was identified in China about half a month earlier than it was in South Korea, recovery speeds were different, according to the China and Korea Rebound 2020 report produced by the consulting and research firm Agility Insights. Offices reopened in China around March 1, whereas the government lifted restrictions on public facilities in South Korea around April 22.
The speed of China’s recovery was much faster, and many luxury brands returned to 60-70 percent of their 2019 levels in March and saw weekly increases into April. With the help of the government, shopping malls and e-commerce platforms employed a series of stimulus packages designed to boost consumption. However, some brands remained more concerned about recovering sales over the next half year.
South Korea never imposed as strict a lockdown as China did, and by mid-March, Koreans were advised to stay home when not going to work or visiting health care providers. Traffic in large malls and department stores began to rebound in April, and the focus was on premium-priced goods.
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