May 13, 2020 / 3:46 AM / 24 days ago

South Korea shoppers line up before dawn ahead of expected Chanel price hike

SEOUL (Reuters) - More than a hundred shoppers waited in line to enter a store of French luxury brand Chanel in Seoul on Wednesday, as they rushed to buy products in the hope of beating price increases expected to kick in later in the week.

This came even after more than 100 new COVID-19 cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul have brought fears of a second wave of infections in a country held up as a coronavirus mitigation success story.

With some arriving as early as 5 a.m., the shoppers wearing face masks snaked around the Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul ahead of the opening at 10:30 a.m., while store workers issued numbered tickets online to keep order.

Lee Ji-yeon, 54, said she arrived at the store about 7:30 am and that her future son-in-law is waiting at another department store to buy a Chanel bag for her daughter as a wedding present. There are several months ahead of the wedding, which has been pushed back from November to March because of the virus.

“We’ve been to the Chanel store several times before and agonising whether to buy it or not. But since the prices are going to increase, we decided to buy it now,” Lee said.

Many South Koreans gift luxury bags for weddings. Also in line was a man who said he would buy a Chanel bag for his girlfriend as a present for a wedding, which has been pushed back from April to late this year because of the virus.

“I wanted to buy before price rises. It is burdensome to buy it during the economic downturn, but I would not be able to buy it later because prices would rise every year,” he said, asking not to be identified.

Chanel public relations in Seoul said its headquarters in France raised prices on Monday, and that prices will increase in all of its markets.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Jack Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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