JapanConsuming: Headlines May 2012

May 04
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Single male households increase spending in 2011
One unlooked for effect of the March 2011 earthquake was a major uptick in consumption among young, single men. The shock of the disaster, with so many people looking inward at their lives, caused young males to reduce saving for the future and live more for the day, increasing spending overall by a huge 13% last year, and even more on clothing, grooming and dining out.

Editorial: Overseas brands gain as market lifts

Hankyu Umeda to reopen in November
H2O Retailing has invested ¥60 billion in redeveloping its vital Hankyu Umeda store, matching a spate of rebuilding by nearby rivals. With an excess of shopping already in central Osaka, nearby competitors will likely see sales plummet when it opens.

American Eagle lands in Japan
American Eagle Outfitters’ first Japanese stores opened last month to predictable queues. Whether it can succeed in this market longer term will depend on its partners Aoyama Shoji and Sumikin Bussan, neither of which has skills in casual apparel retailing – but both very much want to acquire them.

Kirin: a truly social smartphone app
Japan’s second largest beer brand has launched a new smartphone app designed to turn smartphones into drinking companions – as well as helping to sell a few beers. The new app gives users a digital drinking partner, but it also demonstrates the degree of control Kirin maintains over its supply system.

Railways improve retail sales but JR Isetan-Mitsukoshi a disaster
Higher consumer spending at station shopping centres boosted all the major JR firms last year. Upgraded facilities continue to pull footfall from neighbouring shopping facilities and further investment should improve sales further. The only blight on their record is the appalling sales of JR Osaka Isetan-Mitsukoshi, achieving just half of an already conservative forecast, but this is Isetan-Mitsukoshi’s fault.

Walmart: black ship no more
March 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the arrival in Japan of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. Predictably, the US retail giant has spent much of the past decade being lambasted in the domestic press with a status just marginally above that of cultural terrorist. No more. Local press not only marked its first decade, but even talked of the company as the leader in FMCG retailing in Japan. If you wanted proof that Japan has changed, you need look no further.

Benetton starts again
Benetton is a veteran of the Japanese market, and will celebrate its 30th year in Japan this summer. The last decade has seen the business whither, however, weighed down by legacy wholesale operations that have driven a damaging gap between the brand and its target market. It has made several attempts to rectify this but without success. Now Benetton Japan has a new team with the backing from Italy to rebuild the business from scratch, including innovations not seen anywhere else in the Benetton empire.

Point buys Trinity Arts
Point’s sales growth has slowed recently but it still hopes to almost double sales by the end of FY2014 to ¥200 billion. With its existing brands now reaching saturation, Point is looking around for growth companies to buy. Its first acquisition is Trinity Arts, one of the fastest growing apparel retailers in the last five years. Point will also rapidly expand across Asia, while increasing own merchandise development from 2% of sales to 30%, cutting out its trading and textile partners.

Direct marketers build more stores
Direct marketing firms have been talking a good deal about the importance of investing in all non-retail channels including web, mobile, TV and print but some are also adding more retail stores too. Leading the race is Doclasse which plans 35 stores for a footwear catalogue it only launched a year ago.

Shimamura optimistic about consumer spending, planning more own brands
Sales at Shimamura’s 1,700 stores are up and thanks to much higher levels of own brand development, so are profits. Its management is optimistic about consumer spending too, expecting increased sales of higher value apparel.

Facebook set to boom in Japan
There has been much debate about Facebook’s suitability for Japanese consumers. Too open, with nowhere near enough privacy, and too out of sync with the way consumers here use or want to use social media. That was last year. Today Facebook is the fastest growing online service in Japan with a penetration rate of more than 10%. One of the main reasons behind this is its adoption, even on an experimental basis, by an increasing number of corporations. Meanwhile, local options such as Mixi have done no more than make belated attempts to copy Facebook’s functionality.

Short Articles
Overseas brands now dominate in Japan
Twitter launches brand pages
Look signs La Perla
Nishimatsuya plans to double sales in 5 years, signs license with Mudd
ABC Mart up 10.5%
Right On makes a come back
Diver City opens with Old Navy, Zara, H&M and Forever 21
Chelsea to add outlet mall in Chiba
Sales to start late for Lumine and Isetan-Mitsukoshi
Forever 21 adds 4 stores, opens first outlet
Bals opens new FrancFranc concept in Parco Shibuya
Hands Be opens in Tokyu Plaza
Outlet market grows 2.8%
Sun Drug to launch hybrid drug discount store and another for seniors
Mitsui plans 30 tenant SC in Sapporo
Sogo Yokohama to get refit, increase directly managed space to 25%
H&M to open Shinsaibashi flagship in 2013
Sky tree shopping centre to see 312 tenants
Ito-Yokado to expand net super
Aeon launches Turkish made own brand apparel
High Court approves online drug sales
Rakuten to drop online mall in China

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