TOKYO—Retail operations in Japan’s second-largest city were disrupted on Monday after a strong earthquake struck Osaka shortly after 8 a.m. local time. The quake, which had a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter scale, registered a lower six on the Japanese experiential scale that goes up to seven, meaning it is hard to remain standing. As of Monday afternoon, three deaths and over 200 injuries had been reported due to the natural disaster.
The tremor left collapsed walls, scattered fires, broken windows, cracked roads, and broken water pipes in its wake, resulting in many homes that were without water. It also toppled furniture and left goods scattered on shop floors.
The earthquake halted subway, overground, and bullet train lines, leaving many commuters stranded during the morning rush hour. Local media reported passengers could be seen disembarking from trains in between stations and continuing on foot. Dozens of domestic flights into and out of Osaka were also grounded. Around 170,000 homes and local businesses in the area were temporarily without power, although reports said that electricity had been restored to most places by the afternoon.
Many retailers were affected by the earthquake. A spokesman for Takashimaya said that five of the company’s department stores in the area had delayed their opening times due to the fact that staff weren’t able to get to the stores on time for the usual 10 a.m. opening. Those stores were able to open between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday, although two stores only opened their food floors and some restaurants. The spokesman said that there was no major damage to the stores, and that business would resume as usual as soon as transportation services were back to normal.
JR Kyoto Isetan, a department store attached to Kyoto station, only had certain sections and floors open on Monday. A spokeswoman for Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings said the areas that remained closed did so because they were “not in a state that is suitable for receiving customers,” although the damage was not major. She said there was no information yet on when the store would be fully operational again.
Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo and its sister brand GU, reported no property damage or injuries to shop staff. A spokesman for the company, however, said that 25 Uniqlo stores and 12 GU stores in the area were closed on Monday due to the inability of staff to commute to work. A further seven Uniqlo stores and 10 GU stores adjusted opening hours, also due to transportation delays.
“We can’t really say yet what the numbers will be tomorrow, but if transport returns to normal, then we would also expect business to start normalizing,” the Fast Retailing spokesman said.
H2O Retailing, which owns the Osaka-based Hankyu and Hanshin department store chains, could not be reached for comment on Monday afternoon. Both its corporate line and the main number for its flagship stores had recorded messages saying that they were closed temporarily.