Sales per tourist rise 18% in 2014 as tourism surges

Oct 07

Everyone knows that tourist spending is booming, helping department stores in particular offset weaker domestic spending on discretionary items. But how much each tourist spends and what they spend it on is harder to define. A recent survey of 15,000 tourists helps to shed light on Japan’s great Tourist Dividend; while Chinese dominate in both numbers and average spend per person, it is the French and Indians who then spend the most.


According to a recent survey by the Tokyo Bureau of Industrial & Labor Affairs, spending by tourists in the capital continues to rise not only overall (see box below) but also in terms of spend per customer. It estimates that each tourist spent an average of ¥135,000 in 2014, up 18% on 2013.

The survey also looked at spending by nationality. Mainland Chinese spent an average of ¥232,000 per person per visit in 2014, up 21%, of which a chunky ¥161,000 was spent on shopping, a figure also up 31%. The second biggest spenders were Hong Kong Chinese, spending ¥92,000 on shopping, followed by Vietnamese and Singaporeans. Shopping aside, however, the second biggest spenders in total (including travel, food and so on) were the French, at ¥174,000 per head, followed by Indians at ¥167,000.

Also contrary to many common perceptions, the most visited area was Shinjuku, visited by 55%, five points higher than Ginza, followed Asakusa, visited by 49%, Shibuya and Akihabara at 41% and Marunouchi/Tokyo Station just behind. However, Ginza was the most popular or “satisfying” location, with 12.2% of the vote, against 10.7% for Asakusa, and 10.3% for Shinjuku. Mainland Chinese in particular flocked to Ginza while Western Europeans seemed to favour Shibuya and Americans Marunouchi.

Annual surveys run since 2011 by the Japan National Tourist Organisation (JNTO), show that shopping is only the third or fourth most anticipated activity before a visit, but year on year, shopping is the most satisfying, beaten only by ‘eating Japanese food’.

Results of the Tokyo survey suggest that shopping was actually the number one priority for visitors after the more general aim of “enjoying Japan”, with 79% putting shopping first, followed by visiting Japanese cultural assets such as temples at 52%. Chinese from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland were the biggest shopaholics, with 92% putting shopping first. This compares to 70% of Americans and just 57% of Germans.

The sample of 15,000 visitors also showed marked differences by gender and nationality. Among Taiwanese and Thais, 53% and 56% respectively were women, but 88% of visitors from India, and 54% from China were men. Among Western countries too, more than 60% of visitors were men. For most nationalities, the under 40s accounted for around 60% of visitors, but France, Vietnam, Spain and China led the youth stakes, with 62% of Chinese tourists under 40, 66% of Spanish and Vietnamese, and 65% of French.

For retailers with airport concessions, traffic continues to increase at Haneda at the expense of Narita, but 64% of visitors still arrived at Narita against 23% at Haneda. 55% of visitors came to Japan for the first time, but more than 75% of Taiwanese, Hongkongers and Koreans were visiting for the third time or more – and a reasonable proportion of Taiwanese and Americans said they’d visited 20 times or more.

91% of visitors said they were either highly satisfied or satisfied with their trip, and an equal number said they wanted to visit Japan again.