Koreans have become more cautious in opening their wallets due to concerns over a prolonged economic slowdown, government data showed Monday.
According to Statistics Korea and Shinyoung Securities, the average monthly household spending increased 1.38 percent to 2.4 million won ($2,200) in the fourth quarter of last year from a year ago.
Following a mere 0.96 percent increase in the third quarter, it was the first time that year-on-year growth stuck below 2 percent for two consecutive quarters since the global financial crisis in 2008.
In 2009, the growth rate plunged to minus 3.6 percent in the first quarter but the figure jumped to 7.38 percent in the fourth. Since then, the quarterly growth rate has hovered around 5 percent.
Sluggish spending, analysts said, was largely driven by snowballing household debts. Preparation for retirement was also cited as a factor affecting people’s disposable income.
By Chung Joo-won (firstname.lastname@example.org