Sales at South Korea\'s major discount outlet chains and department stores grew from a year earlier last month mostly because of holiday shopping around Lunar New Year\'s Day, the government said Thursday. The combined sales of the country\'s three major discount outlet chains rose 8.9 percent from the same period last year in February, making a significant turnaround from a 24.6 on-year drop in the previous month, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. The three outlet chains are Lotte Mart, E-Mart and Homeplus. Sales at the country\'s three major department store chains also gained 1.7 percent on-year, also making a turnaround from an 8.2 percent on-year drop in January. The ministry attributed the growth mainly to a rise in demand around the Lunar New Year\'s Day season. The holiday fell in January in 2011. \"Sales at department stores posted an on-year growth as an increase in demand during the holiday season led to a rise in the number of purchases though the size of each purchase continued to shrink,\" it said in a press release. The ministry said the accumulated sales of the discount outlet chains in the first two months of the year plunged 10.3 percent from the same period last year, however, with those of the three department store chains -- Hyundai, Shinsegae and Lotte -- also falling 3.7 percent on-year. In February, the number of purchases at the department store chains grew 3.7 percent from the same month last year while the amount of each individual purchase fell 1.9 percent. The number of purchases at discount outlet chains dropped 2.8 percent from a year earlier but a 12 percent hike in the average amount of each purchase more than offset the drop in purchases.