The Isetan Shinjuku store in Tokyo

TOKYO — Natural disasters, including typhoons and an earthquake, dented September retail sales in Japan, although  overseas visitors continued to spend. 

Fast Retailing said Tuesday that same-store sales at its Uniqlo stores in Japan grew by 6 percent last month compared to the corresponding period last year. Despite having to close 16 stores temporarily due to damage from the earthquake that hit northern Japan on September 6, Uniqlo saw its overall customer numbers rise by 3.4 percent, while the average purchase per customer was up by 2.5 percent.

“Same-store sales increased year-on-year in September thanks to a strong launch of fall ranges after the weather turned cooler from mid-month onwards,” said Fast Retailing in a release.

After three openings and two closures last month, Uniqlo currently operates a total of 784 stores in Japan.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, Japan’s largest department store operator, reported that September same-store sales at its seven stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area inched up 0.4 percent year-on-year. Its Isetan Shinjuku flagship in central Tokyo saw a sales increase of 1.9 percent, while sales from most other individual stores in the Tokyo area narrowly missed reaching last year’s levels.

Takashimaya said sales from its 17 department stores across Japan contracted 3.2 percent on the year last month. The largest drop from a single store came from its Tachikawa unit in western Tokyo, where sales plummeted 17.1 percent. Only five individual stores saw their sales surpass last year’s levels, including the branch in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, where sales increased by two percent.

“Because of two typhoons, some stores in the Kansai region closed temporarily, while stores in the Tokyo area had shortened business hours toward the end of the month,” Takashimaya said in a release. The company added that tax-free sales to international visitors in the Kansai region around Osaka had fallen 2.7 percent compared to last September, but that tax-free sales in the Tokyo area continue to see strong, sustained growth.

H2O Retailing Corp., which operates the Hankyu and Hanshin chains of department stores, said that its sales were flat last month compared to the same month a year ago. However, when excluding the Hanshin flagship store in Osaka’s Umeda district, which has had its sales area shrink by approximately 20 percent due to renovations that began in July, total sales increased by 2.6 percent.

J. Front Retailing said that sales among its 17 Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores in Japan fell by 1.7 percent year on year in September. Only six individual stores saw their sales increase, including the Daimaru Tokyo store, where sales were up by 4.8 percent.

“Despite effects from temporary store closures related to Typhoon Jebi in early September and the earthquake in Hokkaido, there were more holidays and weekends in the second half of the month than there were last year, and sales of luxury brand goods and cosmetics continued to be favorable,” J. Front said in a release, adding that until the very last days of the month, September sales had surpassed last year’s levels.

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