TOKYO — Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., said Thursday that Uniqlo’s same-store sales slumped 12.4 percent in April, marking their second consecutive month of decline.
The company blamed unusually cool temperatures for slow sales of spring and summer items. Uniqlo’s March comps slid 16.4 percent — a development that caused Fast Retailing’s shares to shed almost 11 percent on the stock market the day after the news was reported last month.
Uniqlo’s monthly comps refer exclusively to the company’s business in Japan.
Last month, Fast Retailing president Tadashi Yanai characterized the drop in March sales as a one-off and said he thought sales would pick up in April and May. He also touted the importance of spring-summer products like underwear lines Serafine and Silky Dry.
“It was a marketing problem. I don’t think we communicated very well to customers what they should buy,” he said at a press conference releasing the group’s first-half results.
On Thursday, a Fast Retailing spokeswoman said the first week of April was relatively good for Uniqlo but Japan’s weather patterns bit into business later on in the month. April in Japan saw dramatic climatic swings from bright, sunny days to rainy, cold ones.
“It’s normal and everybody is having a hard time now because the weather is always changing,” she said, adding Uniqlo did a better job of promoting its spring-summer lineup last year. She said the company is working to improve its communication efforts.
Uniqlo’s spring-summer lineup included German designer Jil Sander’s second +J collection and Uniqlo’s newly expanded denim brand UJ.
In April, Fast Retailing raised guidance for the full year ending Aug. 31. The company sees net profit coming in at 71 billion yen, or $785.97 million, an increase of 42.6 percent over last year and 5.2 percent higher than the company’s January forecast of 67.5 billion yen, or $747.2 million. Net sales are forecast at 834 billion yen, or $9.23 billion, up 21.7 percent over last year and 1.7 percent over January’s forecast of 820 billion yen, or $9.08 billion.
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