January 5 2010

JapanConsuming Headlines January 2010

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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Focus: Japan warms to online shopping
There is a warm glow of satisfaction and even excitement in one area of consumer distribution: online shopping. Almost all the leading online shopping malls, web stores and mobile shops are enjoying strong growth as consumers shift their spending online. Wider selections, keen prices and the comfort of shopping from your futon are of course factors behind this, but in Japan, it is the excellence of the delivery firms, not just the online stores themselves, that is driving much of recent growth.

Zozo sales jump
Zozo Resort is a fashion shopping portal hosting many mid-priced apparel chains and brands. Based on the current market, it should be seeing sales falling at similar rates to those on the high street. Instead monthly transaction values have been climbing as much as 70% year on year since April. It is now expanding its coverage to high end designer brands and claims to be the largest web apparel enterprise in Japan.

The Coop fights back
Japan has some 6,000 consumer cooperative societies across the country with around 2.5 million members – about 34% of all households. Retail operations have been declining in recent years, but new, rapid replenishment discount formats might signal a new revival of the organisation. Equally, traditional direct supply of food has put the Coop in the forefront of online food sales.

Retail highlights for 2010
Despite continuing anxiety over consumer spending and incomes, retailing always provides things to look forward to, with quite a few exciting developments appearing in the Spring of 2010.

Lacklustre details of Isetan Osaka store
Despite considerable enthusiasm for such an important new shopping development, the latest details for the Isetan Mitsukoshi Osaka store due to open in 2011 are mundane in the extreme. A lot of work remains to be done.

Sports shoe sales down at outlets
While still a popular tenant, sales of sports shoes at outlet malls are down, reflecting an overall drop in spending at these bargain formats. A good third of Japanese have visited an outlet mall, and while most of them buy casual apparel, other categories have suffered.

Toyota signs Miss Sixty
Toyota’s trading arm continues to expand its interests beyond cars and the bits of which they are made. One of its particular enthusiasms is the fashion business in which it has a growing role. Its latest deal is a new venture with Italian fashion firm, Sixty.

Home parties gain popularity
The importance of putting work before the family, along with rapid growth in the proportion of single person households, has led many to treat their homes as a dormitory in recent decades. The latest reduction in consumer confidence has caused more people to reverse this attitude, however, spending more time at home and inviting their friends over.

Shiseido revamps distribution strategy
Since last summer, Shiseido has been in the process of improving its domestic distribution strategy. With cosmetics and toiletries being a famously traditional channel, Japan’s largest cosmetics brand is hoping to catch up with organic developments in the sector.

Aoyama shifts to smaller stores
Thanks to a major new investment in distribution, Aoyama Shoji is set to reduce sales space required at many of its formats. Beginning with two of the urban formats operating in Tokyo, some stores will close and then reopen in smaller spaces, while others will see backroom space converted to sales space as the need for a stock room is effectively removed.

Apparel firms heading for a fall
Japan’s largest listed apparel firms are reeling from the dramatic fall in apparel spending at department stores. Results for the first half of FY2009 show a significant rise in the cost of sales and administration as firms like World, Onward and Sanyo Shokai struggle to deal with mounting inventory and high fixed costs. While gross profit margins rose in a few cases, running costs ballooned leaving all the leading firms either in the red or at breakeven.

Abercrombie & Fitch doubles prices for Japan
Baring their torsos, the male models at Abercrombie & Fitch danced and jived for the benefit of Ginza shoppers while the store’s ventilators suffused the area with perfume at the US chain’s new Japanese store last month. Despite these distractions, the savvy Japanese shoppers still managed to notice that prices were as much as double those in the US. The blogosphere was full of surprised and disappointed punters – not counting those lucky enough to get snapped next to a half naked model.

Apparel chain store closures up
It is not news that sales at mass market apparel chains are being hit hard by the recession but now there are indications that many chains are pulling back on store openings at the same time as closing poor performing outlets. As a result, net store numbers are falling, causing concern among SC managers.

Baroque and Sanei: Local fast fashion
Such is the lure of chains like H&M and Forever 21, that almost every Japanese apparel firm claims to either have or be planning its own ‘fast fashion’ chain. The phrase is being applied by many firms without much accuracy, but Azul by Moussy and Free’s Mart are two chains that more closely the description.

Bonuses down
Wendy’s Japan no longer
New shopping centres down 35% in 2009
Matsuya shrinks Asakusa store 60%
Tokyo Girls Collection moves to Yokohama Arena
Ace signs Italian brand
Art Village continues expansion
Don Quijote launches fashion brand
Oriental Land to sell off Disney chain
Conran Shop gets new owner
Vendome launches cheap jewellery line
Hip eyewear for all
Luxury imported accessory market down 8.2% says Yano
JR East to rebuild Chiba station building
Forever 21 to move into Marui In the Room
Aeon to open large mall in Okinawa
Christmas expectations: spend more this year
Tory Burch opens first stand alone Tokyo store
Uniqlo goes underground
Waon continues to lead e-wallets
Trial enters furniture market
Lawson Store 100 gets frying
Akris to enter bag market
Uniqlo opens large store in Singapore
Seiyu refits Livin stores
Maruetsu to sell Aeon’s Hapicom brand
Levi Strauss expands stores
Itochu makes Java Group subsidiary
Miki Holdings acquires Kimpo-do


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