Takashimaya Shinjuku

TOKYO — Department stores in Japan continued to struggle in November due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While nearly all stores across the country have resumed operations after temporary closures — some with shorter business hours — travel restrictions have led to a drastic decline in the number of international visitors to Japan, affecting department stores in particular.

Fast Retailing reported November same-store sales from its Uniqlo stores in Japan came in at 0.5 percent higher than the same month last year. Customer numbers fell by 4.2 percent, while the average purchase per customer rose by 4.9 percent.

It noted that “extremely strong sales in the early part of the month were later offset by warm weather over the Uniqlo anniversary sale, which dampened sales of core fall ranges.”

As of the end of November, five Uniqlo stores in Japan remained temporarily closed and 81 were operating on shortened working hours due to the health crisis. These stores are nonetheless included in the same-store sales figures.

Uniqlo did not open any new stores or permanently close existing ones in its home market last month. At the end of November, it counted a total of 767 stores throughout the country.

Isetan Mitsukoshi said same-store sales in November from its five stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area declined by 14.7 percent versus a year ago. Of these five stores, the Mitsubishi Nihonbashi store in Tokyo fared best, with a sales drop of 10 percent. But just down the road, sales from the Mitsukoshi Ginza store plummeted by 31.7 percent.

Takashimaya said November sales at its 15 department stores in Japan were down by 12.8 percent year-on-year. Three individual stores actually saw their monthly sales increase by up to 1.9 percent, while the largest drop in sales came from the retailer’s Shinjuku store, which logged a 20.1 percent drop.

“Due to the effects of people continuing to refrain from going out, as well as the drastic decline in sales to inbound travelers, total sales came in below those of last year,” Takashimaya said in a release. The company added that tax-free sales to overseas shoppers plummeted 90.4 percent.

H2O Retailing Corp. said that sales from its Hankyu and Hanshin department stores in Japan dropped 13.7 percent last month, compared to the same month in the previous year. Sales from the Hankyu Umeda flagship store in Osaka declined by 13.8 percent, while sales from the Hanshin flagship store, also in Osaka’s Umeda district, fell by 31.4 percent. Tax-free sales to inbound international travelers were down by 90 percent.

J. Front Retailing, which operates the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya chains of department stores, said November sales from its 16 locations in Japan decreased by 20.6 percent on the year. All locations posted declines, and the biggest drop came from the Daimaru Tokyo store, where sales fell by a whopping 40.7 percent.

“Despite an ongoing favorable trend in sales of luxury brand goods and fine jewelry, the effects of the third wave of infections from the novel coronavirus were amplified, leading to a deceleration of sales in the second half of the month,” J. Front said in a release. Its tax-free tallies were down by 95.9 percent.