By  on October 4, 2011

TOKYO — September sales at Japan's largest retailers were mostly lower, underscoring the still delicate state of the market some six months after a massive earthquake and tsunami slammed the country's northeastern region.

Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. reported Tuesday that same-store sales at its Uniqlo stores in Japan fell 10.7 percent during the month and once again blamed irregular weather patterns for the drop.
 
"Same-store sales dipped year-on-year in September as persistently hot weather stifled sales of fall-winter clothing," said the company, which operates 823 Uniqlo stores in Japan.

Department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings said Monday that sales at nine of its major stores were down 1.1 percent in September, compared with the same month last year. The biggest increase in sales at an individual store came from the Mitsukoshi branch in quake-ravaged Sendai, where sales were up 13 percent on the year.
 
A spokeswoman for the company said that sales at the Sendai store have been strong ever since business resumed after the quake. She attributed the strong performance to the Japanese custom of buying gifts for sick or injured people, and then for those people to return the favor upon recovering. She also mentioned that some other stores in the area, which suffered more damage than Mitsukoshi did, remain closed, possibly driving more customers to shop at Mitsukoshi.
 
Takashimaya reported that September sales at its 18 stores in Japan fell 1.8 percent year-on-year. Only two Takashimaya stores saw sales increases in the month, including the company's main branch in Tokyo. The retailer said that despite stable consumer spending and continuous strong sales of big-ticket items such as jewelry and luxury goods, overall sales were greatly affected by two typhoons that hit Japan last month, causing people to stay indoors.
 
H2O Retailing, which operates the Hankyu and Hanshin chains, said Monday that sales at its department stores increased 3.4 percent in September on some store renewals and openings. However same-store sales were down 5.4 percent in the month.
 
J. Front Retailing reported that sales at its 21 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores increased 1.5 percent in September. The company said in a release that although the typhoons had a negative impact on business, sales of luxury brands, paintings and watches have been strong. It also said that sales of fall fashion items picked up in the second half of the month as temperatures dropped.

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