More salaried workers visit supermarkets for cheaper lunches

Fried chicken and other precooked foods are displayed at a supermarket in Seoul, Sunday, Yonhap

Park Sang-hun, a 43-year-old office worker in Seoul, no longer visits restaurants for lunch every day. Food prices at most restaurants went up by several thousand won and dining in on a daily basis has become a burden for his wallet.

So he has begun visiting a large-scale supermarket near his office. The store has a good variety for sandwiches, gimbap and precooked meals as well as beverages and snacks. He also likes the low prices there.

“Although it requires extra effort to bring the lunch back to my office or take it somewhere I can sit and eat, I can certainly save some money by using the discount store,” Park said.

Supermarkets have begun seeing an increasing number of visitors during lunch hours on weekdays. As ingredients’ prices have been going up and prices are rising at restaurants, office workers are turning their backs on restaurants and instead heading to the big-size superstores to shop for a takeout meal.

Most of the stores have a section dedicated to precooked meals, takeout foods with an extensive range from sushi to bibimbap, rolls, meats and pastries as well as a countless number of manufactured foods like instant noodles. And since shoppers don’t need to sit and wait for restaurant servers, the grocery stores are much cheaper than restaurants.

Sales by major supermarket chains have risen because of the trend.

At E-Mart, the nation’s biggest supermarket chain, sales of simple takeout foods like gimbap or sandwiches from January to May went up 12 percent compared to the previous year. Among its stores that saw their sales of precooked 카지노사이트 foods jump by more than 30 percent from 2023, many of them were in areas of Seoul concentrated with company offices, like Yeouido, Yangjae and Yeongdeungpo.

E-Mart Yeouido’s sales of takeout food during the first five months of the year saw a 71.9 percent jump from last year. The stores in Yangjae and Yeongdeungpo saw increases by 39 percent and 34.6 percent, respectively. The three stores saw a higher proportion of their sales between noon and 1 p.m. than other E-Marts. Their sales of gimbap and sandwiches, in particular, beat other E-Marts by at least 30 percent.

“Discount stores’ biggest strength is the variety of food products, including those dedicated to consumers concerned about healthy dietary meals,” an E-Mart official said. “As ‘lunchflation’ continues to pressure office workers, we’re planning to introduce more takeout meals using rice and lunch boxes.”

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