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Average Korean owns 9 luxury items


How many imported luxury goods do you own? If your answer is nine, you are average for the country. A survey showed Wednesday that Koreans have 8.81 such high-end products on average and purchase about two every year.

According to the survey conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency on 1,000 adults, 37.9 percent said they have one to three of such items, while 22.4 percent answered four to five, and 21.9 percent, six to 10.

People with more than 50 luxury items accounted for 3.4 percent, and 0.9 percent had more than 100 such items. Those surveyed bought an average 1.93 high-end products per year. More than 45 percent also said they have purchased imitation goods at least once.

In purchasing such items, they spent 2.71 million won annually on average, while 5.2 percent of respondents spent more than 10 million won and 1.9 percent, more than 20 million won. About 37 percent said they reduced other expenses to buy luxury goods.

When asked why they buy such products, 49.1 percent cited “self-satisfaction.” Another 20.6 percent said because the quality was good, and 13.1 percent, because other people did.

Some 22 percent said they took overseas trips for the purpose of buying luxury items at duty free shops. More than 53 percent said they asked others traveling overseas to buy such goods for them.

“I needed to buy a watch for my future husband as a marriage gift. It sold for nearly 10 million won at department stores but less than 8 million at the duty free shop in Incheon International Airport. So I decided to take an overseas trip to buy it because I could save money despite the flight fare,” a newlywed, who identified herself as Cho, said.

“But if I paid for it, I might have had to pay extra customs because the tax-free limit for Koreans is $400. So I accompanied one of my Chinese friends here who was returning to China. I gave her the money in advance, she bought the watch at the shop for me, we flew to China together, and I came back alone the next day,” she said.

Ripping off Korean consumers?

According to the agency, Koreans spent about 5 trillion won on imported high-end goods in 2010, and that spending is growing by 10 percent each year. But they purchase the products at higher prices than in other nations.

The agency compared the prices of 50 luxury bags by such labels as Louis Vuitton and Gucci sold here and in Japan, Taiwan, France, Italy and the United States. When the price in Korea was set at 100, those in Japan and Taiwan were higher, at 103.8 and 100.3, respectively.

However, the figures for France, Italy and the U.S. were 73.3, 73.5 and 90.3, respectively. The average of the five nations except for Korea was 88.2. “That means a luxury bag is sold at $100 in Korea when the same kind of bag is available at $88.2 in other countries,” Kang Byeong-mo, an official of the agency, said.