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Credit Card Spending Patterns Show How Five-day Workweek Has Changed Korean Lifestyles

Credit Card Spending Patterns Show How Five-day Workweek Has Changed Korean Lifestyles

Posted June. 25, 2005 06:06,   


Kim, a manger of a company, said, “Now you are considered rude if you invite your colleagues for drinks on Friday,” adding, “It is true of everyone, given that I no longer have difficulty catching a taxi on Friday nights when I work late.”

The five-day workweek system was introduced in July of last year to employers with more than 1,000 permanent employees, which includes large conglomerates, financial companies and public enterprises, and the new system has changed the lifestyle of Koreans. At the one-year mark of the introduction of the system, Dong-A Ilbo, in cooperation with BC Card, the nation’s largest credit card company (2.6 million members), compared shopping patterns by various industries and the days of the week between April and May, and made these comparisons both for last year and for the same period this year. They found that people dine together with colleagues more on Thursday than any other day and shopping on Thursdays and Fridays has dramatically risen.

This year, saloons, bars and karaoke bars recorded the largest sales on Thursday. Last year, these businesses sold the most on Wednesdays, followed by Saturdays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Thursdays.

The aggregate sales of these businesses have declined 2.3 percent compared to last year. By contrast, sales on Thursdays have surged 17.8 percent.

Sales of department stores and discount stores have gone up by 4.1 percent with sales increases of 17.6 percent and 13.4 percent on Thursdays and Fridays, respectively.

Saturdays and Sundays still take up the largest share of sales with 39.1 percent compared to other days of the week, but the figure is down 1.2 percent from the previous year. This is attributed to the fact that a growing number of people do their shopping on Thursdays and Fridays before they are ready to spend the entire weekend doing leisure activities. The credit card spending of BC card members has increased 9.8 percent this year.

With more people spending their weekends engaged in leisure activities and self-development, private institutes and leisure, tourism, culture and hobby-related industries reported 34.6 percent to 67.0 percent jumps in their sales.

Oh Hyun-taek, the head of the BC Card research team explained, “A growing trend of people intending to spend the weekend with family beginning on Friday night is diversifying the shopping pattern of the weekend which used to be monotonous.”

The Ministry of Labor estimated on June 24 that around 1.8 million people are currently working five days a week.

As employers with three to 10 million permanent workers are set to introduce the five-day workweek system starting on July 1, an additional 800,000 workers are expected to join the system, bringing the total number of workers taking Saturdays and Sundays off to 2.6 million.

Sun-Woo Kim Kyung-Joon Chung sublime@donga.com news91@donga.com