SEOUL-- Local retailers have launched big sales across the board that will continue throughout November, making the month one of the peak shopping seasons of the year, industry officials said Wednesday.

Mimicking Black Friday in the United States and Singles' Day in China, South Korean retailers have picked the normally slow month to provide deep discounts for shoppers at department stores, supermarket chains and e-commerce sites.

Department stores are currently holding sales, the last of this year, until Dec. 3. Lotte said its sales Nov. 16-20 increased 14.1 percent compared to same period last year, pushed by strong showings by outdoor and sports wear as winter cold sets in.

Hyundai said its sales during the same period rose 12.7 percent. Shinsegae counted a 13.4 percent increase.

"Winter this year was forecast to be extremely cold, and the number of customers looking for padded down coats has increased from the early sales period," Park Soon-min of Shinsegae Department Store said. "We are expecting winter season special demand through sales."

The three department stores are going on second-phase sales this week, offering lowered prices for select brands.

Supermarket chains are also giving markdowns. E-mart is celebrating its 24th anniversary with the biggest sale of the year. Its sales increased 17.5 percent during the five days from the sales opening compared to the same time last year.

Lotte is attracting customers with discounts on fresh and processed foods, while Home Plus is holding a special sale for Christmas products.

Online shopping sites have expanded sales items as well.

11st is providing up to 50 percent sales until Nov. 30 on most popular products for Black Friday. Direct purchases from overseas through the site will be open for not just the United States but also Southeast Asia, Japan and Europe.

The e-commerce site has also arranged time sales, giving discounts at chosen time windows for products including LG's ultra-high-definition TVs, coffee machines and Chanel wallets.

Gmarket is rivaling with 70 percent discounts this month on leading local and foreign brands, while Auction is taking 70 percent off products picked up by merchandisers in foreign countries.

Duty-free shops are also in the race. Lotte's winter season sale starting Thursday will have up to 80 percent markdowns for foreign brands, while Shilla has chosen 60 percent discounts on top popular labels.

Shinsegae set its discount rate at 60 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency