TOKYO — Retailers in Japan saw their sales fall in August, hit by typhoons and the fact that there was one fewer weekend day compared with the same month last year.
Fast Retailing Ltd. Co. said same-store sales at its Uniqlo stores in Japan slipped by 1 percent year on year in August — a modest decline compared with that of the country’s department stores. Customer numbers were down by 1.6 percent, but the average purchase per customer grew by 0.6 percent.
“Same-store sales declined slightly year-on-year in August due to cooler temperatures in the first half of the month and heavy typhoons from midmonth onward,” said the company, which recently unveiled a remodeled store in Soho.
After shuttering six stores in August, Fast Retailing currently operates 798 Uniqlo outlets in Japan.
Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, Japan’s largest department store operator, said that sales at its nine stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area dropped by 10.6 percent on the year in August. No individual store posted a sales increase last month.
Takashimaya said that its 17 department stores in Japan saw their August sales decrease by 4.4 percent. Double-digit declines were posted by two stores outside major metropolitan areas, and only the retailer’s Nihonbashi flagship store in Tokyo posted an increase. Its sales grew by 0.4 percent on the year.
“Due to factors such as the effect of typhoons and one fewer weekend day than last year, our August store sales did not reach the same levels as last year,” said Takashimaya.
H2O Retailing, which operates the Hankyu and Hanshin chains of department stores, said sales among those stores in Japan fell 5 percent last month. The Hanshin flagship store in the Umeda area of the western Japanese city of Osaka saw its sales fall by 8 percent.
Front Retailing said sales among its 18 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores in Japan were down by 7.4 percent in August. The biggest drop came from its Daimaru Shinsaibashi store in Osaka, were sales fell by 25.6 percent due largely to ongoing construction related to renovations. Only two individual stores posted sales increases, with the Matsuzakaya store in Tokyo’s Ueno district seeing the biggest growth at 1.9 percent.
While the numbers don’t look good, research analyst Masafumi Shoda of Nomura points out that August is typically not a make-or-break month for Japan’s retailers.
“August is not that important, accounting for only around 7 percent of annual sales as discount sales wind down,” Shoda wrote in a report. “While profits will likely continue falling in the first half of fiscal year 2016 as sales, including tax-free sales, face a high year-on-year comparison base, we think that sales declines will gradually ease from the end of fiscal 2016 through the first half of fiscal 2017.”
Shoda also pointed out that as growth of tourist flows to Japan slows, tax-free sales have continued to fall sharply. These were down by 10.9 percent at Takashimaya, down 30.2 percent at Isetan Mitsukoshi, and down 31.7 percent at Daimaru Matsuzakaya department stores.