By  on January 6, 2009

TOKYO — Despite long lines and crowds at many retailers here,Japan’s discounting season is not getting off to a strong start.

Isetan’s flagship in Shinjuku saw revenues drop 8 percent year-on-year on Jan. 2, the first big day of the discount season, a spokesman said, adding the retailer expects the store’s January sales to slide 5 to 10 percent this year.

Rival Takashimaya said even though about 5 percent more customers visited its Nihonbashi flagship on Jan. 2 and 3, sales were down about 5 percent both days. A spokeswoman said good weather and the fact that fewer people are traveling abroad brought more traffic to the store, but “spending per consumer was not high.”

Still, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd.’s Uniqlo chain is continuing to outperform Japan’s weak retail market. The company said Monday that December same-store sales at Uniqlo boutiques in Japan rose 10.3 percent. “Warm clothes, such as down jackets and fleece jackets, sold well due to our massive sales promotion, including three TV campaigns,” said a Fast Retailing spokeswoman, adding that January sales are in line with expectations.

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