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S. Korea July dept stores surge on MERS base effect, hot weather

SEOUL, Aug 30 (Reuters) - South Korea's department store sales increased at a brisk pace in July, trade ministry data showed on Tuesday, helped by warmer weather and the low base-effect from last year's Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.

Combined sales at department stores run by Hyundai Department Store, Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae Co jumped 7 percent on-year, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said.

The data fit into a rebound seen from June when sales surged 11.8 percent, the largest year-on-year increase in more than five years, as consumption returned after the deadly respiratory disease receded.

Hot weather also helped the rebound, as it drove consumers to buy air conditioners and boosted sales of home appliances by 11.9 percent.

Sales at discount stores over the same period rose 2.1 percent on an annual basis, compared with a 0.9 percent increase from June.

The uptick in retail figures bodes well for South Korea's economy after a central bank survey indicated that consumer confidence reached an eight-month high in August. Exports are expected to grow for the first time in 19 months for August, a Reuters poll showed on Monday.

Online open market sales at websites owned by eBay Korea Co Ltd and others surged 31.2 percent over a year earlier in July, compared to a 17.1 percent increase in June.

The same data showed sales at online social commerce websites like Coupang ( and Ticketmonster ( rose 1.2 percent in July on-year, slowing from 10.1 percent jump in June.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)