Takashimaya Nihonbashi

TOKYO — After several months of sales declines, retailers in Japan began showing signs of recovery in October, with several companies flat or in positive territory. Cooler weather helped to push sales of autumn and winter items, while a low comparative base due to a consumption tax hike that went into effect last October made the previous year’s levels easier to obtain.

Fast Retailing reported same-store and online sales from its Uniqlo stores in Japan grew by 16.2 percent last month. Customer numbers were up by just 0.9 percent, but the average purchase per customer grew by 15.1 percent.

“Same-store sales rose considerably year on year in October thanks to buoyant sales of fall-winter ranges during the consistently cool weather and a successful e-commerce advertising campaign,” Fast Retailing said in a release.

As of the end of October, four Uniqlo stores in Japan remained temporarily closed due to the pandemic, and 87 were operating with shortened working hours. These stores are still included in the same-store sales calculations.

After two new openings and one closure last month, Fast Retailing currently operates 767 Uniqlo stores throughout Japan.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, Japan’s largest department store operator, said comparative sales from its five stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area slipped by 2.8 percent in October, compared with the same month a year earlier. Four of the five stores saw their sales increase, with only the Mitsukoshi Ginza store posting a decline. Sales from that store were down by 26.9 percent, which brought down the average. Each of the other four stores saw their sales grow by between 1 and 4.4 percent.

Takashimaya said October sales from its 15 department stores in Japan inched up by 1 percent year on year — its first increase in 13 months. The biggest decline came from the Takashimaya Osaka store, where sales were down by 12.8 percent. The store in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district posted a 17.6 percent gain in sales, while the Tamagawa store in suburban Tokyo saw a 20.5 percent sales increase.

H2O Retailing, which operates the Hankyu and Hanshin department store chains, said sales from those stores in Japan slipped by 2.8 percent in October.

“In addition to a leveling off of new infections of the novel coronavirus, the resumption of popular product events and international fairs, as well as support from the government’s ‘GoTo Travel’ campaign led to a gradual restoration in customer numbers to both flagship stores,” H2O Retailing said in a release, referencing the Hankyu Umeda and Hanshin Umeda stores, both located in Osaka. “In terms of sales, the decline immediately following the consumption tax increase as well as the effects of typhoons last year meant we were able to achieve 97 percent of last year’s levels.”

J. Front Retailing said October sales from its 16 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores in Japan decreased by 6.2 percent on the year. The largest sales increase by an individual store came from the Daimaru store in the southwestern city of Kobe, where sales gained 17.2 percent. The largest decline came from the Daimaru Shinsaibashi store in Osaka, where sales were down by 31 percent.

“Due to restrained buying immediately following the consumption tax increase last year, as well as the success of special events aimed at selling to customers outside of stores, sales of luxury brand goods were up 20 percent over last year, while sales of kimonos and other special items were up by 40 percent,” J. Front said in a release. “Due to the continued trend to avoid going out because of the coronavirus, as well as the large decline in consumption by inbound international tourists, sales fell slightly compared with the same month last year.”

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