While main streets in Seoul are typically cleared of snow promptly to prevent it from melting and refreezing into ice, alleys leading into residential areas and the city's lower-lying hills often remain neglected. This poses challenges for vehicles, particularly those with rear-wheel drive, which are more prone to losing traction on icy and snowy roads compared to front-wheel drive vehicles.
Although most cars in South Korea are equipped with all-weather tires that offer sufficient grip in cold conditions, some vehicle owners opt to switch to winter tires or snow tires for added safety. According to national statistics, approximately 30 percent of drivers in South Korea use winter tires, whereas in Europe, where regulations are stricter, the usage rate is around 90 percent.
Data from Gmarket, operated by South Korea's retail giant Shinsegae, reveals a significant increase in the sales of snow chains, which rose by 40 percent in January 2024 compared to the previous month. Sales of other winter-related products also saw a notable uptick, with windshield covers increasing by 23 percent and anti-fog products by 48 percent month-on-month. Similarly, SSG.Com, Shinsegae's online shopping mall, reported an average increase of 120 percent in sales of winter vehicle products.
In addition to vehicle equipment, winter clothing sales also experienced a surge on ecommerce platforms. Sales of thermal underwear rose by 25 percent, while fur stockings saw a remarkable 70 percent increase in sales. SSG.com witnessed heightened demand for home heating equipment, including electric blankets (up by 52 percent) and heated mattresses (up by 24 percent).
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