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Korean vending machines offer gold bars to go

UPI – The popularity of gold bars is surging at convenience stores around South Korea as the value appreciates amid strong inflationary pressure across the globe.

GS Retail confirmed on Friday that sales of gold bars at its convenience stores totalled USD19 million in the past nine months ending in May.

The gold bars, dispensed through vending machines, were introduced last September at five of its stores. The machines offer five sizes, weighing 0.13 ounces to 1.3 ounces.

Prices fluctuate daily in keeping with the international valuation for gold, according to GS Retail, which operates more than 10,000 convenience stores all over South Korea. The popularity of gold bars at its stores has prompted the company to increase the number of outlets carrying them 29 with plans to hit 50 by year end.

“The most popular gold bar is the smallest, the 0.13-ounce one, which is currently priced at around USD225,” a GS Retail representative told UPI News Korea. “People in their 20s and 30s appear to be the main buyers, purchasing physical gold as an investment vehicle, especially in times such as these, when its value is continuing to rise,” he said.

The gold price started to jump in March amid Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse and with people moving to gold as a safe haven.

“Niggling inflation and the SVB crisis seem to have caused more people to be interested in anti-inflationary assets such as gold,” Inha University Professor Lee Eun-hee said in a phone interview.

“But a gold bar purchased at a convenience store seems more like something done in fun rather than as a means for serious investment. I believe the popularity of these gold bars is mainly due to its easy accessibility, at convenience stores no less,” she said.

The gold bars, dispensed through vending machines, were introduced last September at five of the GS Retail stores in South Korea. PHOTO: UPI