TOKYO — Japanese retailers saw large drops in their March sales, due mainly to high comparative bases caused by rush buying last March ahead of an increase in the national consumption tax that went into place in April. Retailers were also not helped by the fact that there were two fewer weekend days or holidays this March compared with last year.
Fast Retailing said Thursday that same-store sales among its Uniqlo doors in Japan fell 3 percent compared with the same month last year. Customer numbers were down 10.5 percent, but the average purchase per customer increased by 8.4 percent.
“While the weather was slightly warmer than the previous year and the overall sales trend held closely to the previous year’s levels, the fact that consumers had two fewer public and weekend holidays to shop impacted on the final same-store sales figure,” the company said.
After closing six and opening four stores in March, including a 35,500-square-foot location in the northern city of Sapporo, Fast Retailing currently has 810 Uniqlo stores in Japan.
Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings said that sales among its nine department stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area fell 14 percent year-on-year in March. This was the largest monthly sales drop in over a year for the company. None of the retailer’s individual department stores posted sales increases; however, those in urban areas fared better than suburban locations. The Mitsukoshi store in Tokyo’s Ginza district, for example, saw sales slip 1.9 percent.
Takashimaya said that sales at its 17 department stores in Japan fell 23.8 percent last month. It also saw larger declines at its suburban stores than at those in city centers. The company said that sales declined across all product categories.
March sales at Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores dropped 19.4 percent, according to H2O Retailing. This marks the first monthly sales drop for the retailer in nine months, and the largest in over a year.
J. Front Retaiing said sales at its 18 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores fell 23 percent on the year last month. Declines at individual stores ranged between 9.5 and 32.7 percent.