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SEOUL, March 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's department and discount store sales in February declined due to distortions stemming from the Lunar New Year holiday, trade ministry data showed on Thursday.
Combined sales in February at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co fell 1.3 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.
In January, sales rose 4.6 percent on-year, the fastest pace of growth in three months.
The same data showed sales at discount stores plunged 19.5 percent from a year ago in February, reversing and taking back more than the 11.3 percent jump seen in January.
It was the worst fall since a 23.1 percent drop in February 2014.
Retail sales tend to rise around Lunar New Year, but the holiday can fall anywhere between mid-January to mid-February, resulting in data distortions around that period.
The holiday occurred in late January this year and in 2015 it was in mid-February.
At department stores in February, demand for women's apparel and luxury products nearly offset declines in food, the trade ministry said. Sales for all categories fell at discount stores last month. (Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)