The tourism industry is suffering increasing losses over a Chinese boycott and ban on "zero-dollar" shopping tours to Korea.
Duty-free shops, which have generated more than 70 percent of their revenues from Chinese tourists, have been hit hardest.
Lotte said Tuesday that revenues at its duty-free shops last weekend were down 25 percent from the same period of last year. Average daily sales had been growing more than 20 percent this year until China banned the cheap package tours on March 15.
At Shilla's duty-free shops, sales plunged more than 20 percent, while Galleria suffered more than a 30-percent drop.
Travel agencies are getting almost no bookings from Chinese tourists. A staffer at one travel agency said, "We've not had a single reservation since March 16. The Chinese Labor Day holiday is coming up in early May, and if we get no bookings by then I don't know how we can stay open."
The situation is the same at hotels. A staffer at one business hotel in Myeong-dong said, "We've filled our rooms with tourists who booked 15 days ago, but I don't know what's going to happen after April."
Chinese tourists crowds a duty-free shop at Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul in September last year(top), but the same shop is quiet last week (bottom).