Ever since the first-ever convenience store 7-Eleven was opened by then-copy printer manufacturer Dong-Hwa Industrial in May, 1989, in Bangi-dong, southern Seoul, the convenience store industry has greatly expanded.

With some 30 years of history, the industry continues to expand in light of a rise in one-person households and double-income families seeking quick, easy consumption of daily necessities 24-7.

According to a report by the Korea Association of Convenience Store Industry, the combined revenue of convenience store businesses is estimated at 22.2 trillion won, compared to 10.1 trillion won in 2011. The number of branches has also surged to around 40,192 as of March this year.

Retailers that are otherwise seeing lackluster sales at their offline businesses are enjoying smooth performance in their convenience store sectors.

Such explosive proliferation of convenience stores mostly run by conglomerates, however, also comes with concerns of hurting small mom-and-pop shops, while debate continues over whether the distance between each convenience store should be regulated. (khnews@heraldcorp.com)