November 18, 2008 / 7:01 AM / 10 years ago

South Korea condom sales balloon as economy wilts

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - The downturn in South Korea’s economy has led to an increase in condom sales, with more adults waiting until their finances are in better shape to have children, retailers said on Tuesday.

Major South Korean convenience store giant GS 25 said condom sales have increased by 19 percent since August from the same period a year ago, with the sale numbers going up just as the Seoul stock average and currency started to plunge in value.

“More couples are planning to delay childbirth in the face of the economic downturn,” GS Retail, an operator of GS 25, said in a statement.

Sales stiffened further in November when the stock market and the won took some of their hardest hits in years, it said.

South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the developed world with experts saying one of the main reasons is the high cost of education in the highly competitive country.

“Condom sales are usually recession-free, and tend to peak around the end of the year with many Christmas or year-end parties,” an official with retailer Condomania told Reuters.

Reporting by Kim Junghyun; editing by Jon Herskovitz and Miral Fahmy

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