TOKYO — Japanese retailers saw mixed sales in January, as fluctuating temperatures inhibited sales of winter items at some stores and increased numbers of international tourists buoyed sales in others.
Fast Retailing said Tuesday that same-store sales at its Uniqlo stores in Japan grew 14.6 percent year-on-year last month. Customer numbers increased by 8 percent, while the average purchase per customer was up by 6 percent.
“Same-store sales rose year-on-year in January thanks to strong New Year bargain sales and buoyant sales of winter items, which were supported by persistent cold weather throughout the month,” Fast Retailing said.
After two closures and no openings last month, there are now 805 Uniqlo stores in Japan.
Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings said January sales among its nine department stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area fell 1.4 percent on the year. While stores in Tokyo saw sales increase — 1.7 percent at Isetan Shinjuku and 3.7 percent at Mitsukoshi Ginza — locations outside the city center did not fare as well. This year Isetan and Mitsukoshi stores opened one day later than usual after the New Year holidays, which could have been one reason for the decline.
Takashimaya said sales at its 17 stores in Japan grew 0.5 percent last month, thanks in large part to increased demand by international tourists to Japan.
“While sales of clothing, and in particular winter clothes, was slow, sales of cosmetics and designer clothing and accessories was favorable, due mainly to strong demand from inbound tourists,” Takashimaya said.
H2O Retailing, which operates the Hankyu and Hanshin department stores, said sales in Japan dropped 3.5 percent on the year in January. Sales at the Hankyu flagship store in Osaka’s Umeda district rose 4.6 percent, while sales at the Hanshin flagship in the same area plummeted 31.5 percent.
Sales among the 18 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores in Japan slipped 3.5 percent, according to corporate parent J. Front Retailing. The company saw sales and individual stores fall by as much as 22.3 percent (at the Daimaru in Osaka’s Shinsaibashi area, which is currently undergoing renovations), while the largest single-store increase in sales (at Daimaru Tokyo) was 5 percent.
“Despite favorable sales growth of luxury brands, cosmetics and fine art, movement of items such as coats and mufflers in the winter clearance sales was slow due to warmer temperatures in the first half of the month,” J. Front said.
While many retailers in Japan struggled in January and December, sales are often given a boost in February thanks to a fresh influx of tourists over the Chinese New Year period. Nomura research analyst Masafumi Shoda expects the positive effect of growing visitor numbers to Japan to continue.
“Retail sales have entered a slow period now that the year-end shopping season is over, but we expect a rising impact from tax-free sales to overseas visitors to Japan on a seasonal basis,” Shoda wrote in a report. “We think the opening of a downtown duty-free store at the Mitsukoshi Ginza store on January27 has been helping to boost sales there too.”