Sales at South Korea's top department stores fell for a third consecutive month in August, data showed on Monday, underlining the impact of an economic slowdown on domestic consumer demand.
The sales at stores run by the country's three major operators -- Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai -- were down 6.9 percent in August compared with the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
It followed a 1.3 percent drop in July and marked the third monthly sales decline in a row on a year-on-year basis.
Sales at discount stores declined 3.3 percent in August from a year earlier, marking the fifth straight monthly fall.
The ministry partly attributed the "deterioration in consumer sentiment" to the steady weakening of South Korea's economy which has been hit by an export slowdown to US and European markets.
In June, South Korea revised its economic growth forecast for 2012 down to 3.3 percent from its earlier projection of 3.7 percent, mainly as a result of the export slump.
South Korea's central bank had been expected to announce an economy-boosting interest rate cut last week, but defied analyst predictions by keeping its key rate unchanged at 3.0 percent.
The ministry said the pronounced sales decline in August was partly due to the three-day autumn harvest Chuseok holiday -- traditionally a period of high consumer spending -- falling later this year than in 2011.