TOKYO–Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd.’s payroll is set to shrink.

Japan’s largest department store retailer said Tuesday that about 1,500 Mitsukoshi workers have applied for its early retirement program. Those employees represent just over 22 percent of Mitsukoshi’s full-time workforce. They are expected to retire by Jan. 31.

Mitsukoshi was looking to reduce its workforce after closing a number of stores including one in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood.

As reported, Japanese consumers have been cutting back on shopping as their country’s economic problems persist. Luxury goods companies and department store operators have suffered the most in the current climate as consumers find stylish bargains at low-priced chains like Uniqlo and Hennes & Mauritz.

Last month, the Japan Department Store Association said its October sales slid 10.5 percent, registering their 20th consecutive month of decline.

Although Japan has officially emerged from recession, there are doubts about the longer-term health of the world’s second largest economy. A strong yen to dollar exchange rate is weighing negatively on Japan’s exports and the country is in deflation.

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