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People open up wallet to display family love

Posted May. 10, 2014 05:48,   


Kim Eun-shik, a 34-year-old office worker, bought carnations and visited his parents’ home after work on Wednesday, the eve of Parents’ Day. Until last year, presentation of carnations to his parents was considered responsibility of his younger sister, and Kim would only give a phone call to say hello and give pocket money to the parents.

Things have changed this year, however. In addition to flowers, he wrote a congratulatory card to the parents in person. “Witnessing the Sewol disaster, I thought to myself that I should give extra consideration to my family even just once. For this reason, I wrote a handwritten letter for the first time in a long time,” Kim said. “After getting married, I have not cared much other than giving them pocket money. But I`ve decided to change a bit.”

Like Kim, many Koreans have realized the importance of family, as they witnessed the Sewol tragedy. Such thinking is being reflected in consumption patterns. The most notable is sales of carnations, which are considered the flower of choice to express gratitude in Korea. According to the Lotte Mart discount store, sales of carnations have increased by 68 percent year-on-year between May 1 and May 8. The trend of carnation sales is also the same at convenient stores. Carnation sales at Seven Eleven stores have jumped 10 percent year-on-year over the same period. CU also says it has seen a 12 percent increase in per-store sales of carnations year-on-year.

Jeong Soo-yeong, a 61-year-old flower shop owner in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, said, “I used to sell carnations until late at night, but this year, I sold out the flowers in stock around 6 p.m. Many patrons came but had no chance to buy the flower because we ran out of the flower.”

It is also noteworthy that sales of letter sheets and congratulatory cards have increased. Over the same period, sales of the items at E-Mart stores have soared by 30 percent year-on-year. E-Mart says the sales spike is unusual, given that exchanging text-messages via the smartphone has become a norm these days.