|Visitors to a restaurant at Hyundai Department Store's Mia branch in Seoul enjoy dinner in this photo provided by the department store, Monday. / Courtesy of Hyundai Department Store|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Department stores have become popular locations for year-end parties with more people seeking to improve the balance between their work and personal lives and avoid binge drinking, according to officials from the three major department stores ― Hyundai, Lotte and Shinsegae ― Monday.
"Eating grilled pork belly with a glass of soju for the first round and fried chicken with beer for the second round have been regarded as a typical example of a year-end party in Korea. However, the culture is changing as more people are trying to avoid binge drinking until late at night, and the department stores have emerged as popular locations for year-end parties," a Hyundai Department Store official said.
"Many visitors are using high-quality but affordable restaurants in department stores. Also, they don't need to go elsewhere to go shopping when meeting at department stores. This is another pro of using department stores."
Hyundai said it analyzed the reservation status of 122 restaurants for December located in their 15 department stores nationwide and the number of reservations has increased by 21.9 percent year-on-year.
The company added the times of the meetings have also changed compared with the same period in 2018 as more people prefer to have their year-end parties at lunch or in the early evening.
"Restaurants doing business in our department stores have been receiving 30.1 percent and 13.7 percent more reservations at lunch time or early evening between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for December compared with the same period in 2018," the official said.
Especially, the department stores located near business districts such as Pangyo in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, and Samseong-dong in southern Seoul have seen their reservation numbers increase by 68.7 percent and 51.5 percent, respectively.
A Lotte Department Store official agreed. "People like office workers are increasingly preferring to hold their year-end parties at department stores. Restaurants located at our department stores are receiving increased numbers of reservations compared to previous years."
An official from Shinsegae Department Store also said "the restaurants in our branches have recently been receiving more reservations. This is because the department stores have traditionally been busy places in the year-end season and more customers like to dine at fancy restaurants at the department store."
Among the dining options, Chinese restaurants are the preferred destination for year-end parties, they added.