By  on January 5, 2012

TOKYO A chilly December helped Uniqlo post a 14.2 percent surge in same-store sales for the month while leading department store retailers Isetan Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya generated close to flat results for the period.
Although Christmas is not a national holiday and widely celebrated, December is still an important time for retailers. During the month, Japanese consumers are preparing for New Year’s, the biggest holiday of the year, by stocking up on food and spirits for themselves and to give as gifts. It’s also a time when many receive year-end bonuses.
Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing said Thursday that cold weather prompted consumers to snap up winter garments and promotional items. The retailer’s same-store figures refer to its operations in Japan rather than its international sales points in cities such as New York, Paris, Beijing and Singapore.
Isetan Mitsukoshi said December sales at nine of its main branches rose 0.4 percent. Although Isetan’s Shinjuku flagship saw its sales decline 0.3 percent, Mitsukoshi’s recently refurbished Ginza store saw its sales climb 7 percent.
As reported, consumption in the northern city of Sendai, close to the March tsunami disaster zone, is bouncing back as people in the area buy gifts to thank friends and family members for their help during tough times. December sales at Mitsukoshi’s Sendai branch rose 13.7 percent.
Takashimaya said sales at its 18 stores in Japan increased 0.3 percent. Like Fast Retailing, it said that cold weather helped move winter clothing.
Takashimaya also said a store renovation in Osaka helped boost its numbers in western Japan. Its nine stores in the Kansai region, comprising Osaka, Kyoto and the surrounding area rose 1.2 percent. Those in the Kanto area around Tokyo did not fare as well and fell 0.2 percent.

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