SEOUL, May 10 (Yonhap) — Lotte Shopping Co., the operator of South Korea’s biggest department store outlets, said Monday its first-quarter net losses narrowed from a year earlier on recovering sales in its department store outlets.

Net losses for the three months that ended in March narrowed to 40.6 billion won (US$36.5 million) from 43.3 billion won in the same period of last year, the company said in a statement.

The retail giant posted an improved net result as consumer sentiment for luxury goods recovered following the yearlong coronavirus pandemic, the statement said.

But sales at the company’s large discount store chains and supermarket chains remain sluggish amid the prolonged pandemic.

Operating income rose 18.5 percent to 61.8 billion won in the first quarter from 52.1 billion won. Sales fell 4.8 percent to 3.88 trillion won from 4.07 trillion won during the same period.

Operating profit was 57.1 percent lower than the average estimate, according to the survey by Yonhap Infomax, the financial data firm of Yonhap News Agency. The estimate of net profit was not available.

Shares in Lotte Shopping rose 2.78 percent to 129,500 won on the Seoul bourse, outperforming the broader KOSPI’s 1.63 percent gain.