Department stores across South Korea are on track to transform their outlets from simple shopping centres into culture spaces.

The primary factor behind the department stores’ increasing efforts to install cultural spaces is the sluggish performance of their offline stores amid the expansion of contactless consumption through online channels resulting from the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lotte Department Store, for example, started setting up experience-focused cultural facilities within its outlets across the country last year. The company’s flagship store in Jamsil, southern Seoul, is running a cultural space called 291 Photographs, which hosts a variety of photo exhibitions and offers profile photograph services for professional writers, in addition to camera and book sales.

Hyundai Department Store also built a cultural space at its Pangyo branch, south of Seoul. Under the concept of an ‘Art Museum’ that focuses on installing a variety of artworks including sculptures and paintings on each floor of the store, Hyundai Department Store is turning its Pangyo store into a kind of art gallery.

Shinsegae Department Store is running professional galleries at its flagship location in Seoul and as well as stores in Busan, Gwangju and Daegu. As the shopping experience itself is becoming not enough to lure consumers, department store operators are looking for ways to differentiate themselves by transforming their stores into cultural attractions where visitors can enjoy not only shopping but also a variety of culture and art.