February 20 2021

Japanese e-commerce is booming

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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February 2021 Issue

FOCUS: E-Commerce is Booming

This month’s focus is a complete review of the e-commerce sector, including a unique top 100 ranking, and shows that online retailing looks set to become the biggest retail channel this year and to widen the gap with other channels sharply in the next five years. Some categories already see more than 30% of sales online and even food will see e-commerce share double in the next five years, as will fashion. Many retailers have already invested heavily and worked hard to create true omnichannel retailing and, increasingly, the extent of activity online is a measure of success overall.

Rakuten surges in 2020

Rakuten posted a sharp improvement in sales at Rakuten Ichiba in 2020 as customers flocked to the e-commerce platform in lieu of shopping at physical stores. Going forward, Rakuten is hoping that the growth in cross-use of its e-commerce service by its new mobile subscriber base will continue as it works further to improve fulfilment reliability and coverage both alone and through its new joint venture with Japan Post. In recognition of the increasing diversity of the company’s businesses, Rakuten will change its name to Rakuten Group from April.

Editorial: The need for speed – online

Barney’s NY Shinjuku to close

Barney’s New York will close its Shinjuku store at the end of February. Although the iconic fashion store had hoped to close only temporarily, Seven & I took the decision  to close permanently due to a variety of factors: the age of the store, the high rent in an area with falling footfall, and the declining popularity of large format stores like Barney’s Shinjuku in general.

Department store sales drop to 1975 levels

Department store sales in 2020 dropped to levels not seen since 1975 and the latest state of emergency has led to more store closures. In some ways, the remaining department stores did well to achieve CY2020 sales only 25% lower than the year before and city centre stores should revive once traffic returns. Meanwhile, there are opportunities to rethink how former department store buildings can be redeveloped.

Tokushimaru: mobile super star

Tokushimaru started as a local mobile supermarket in Shikoku but has become a nationwide network of vans franchised by a growing number of supermarkets. Almost all of its customers are elderly and it takes pride in serving communities. Now, with Ito-Yokado planning to add most of its store network to the system, Tokushimaru could well grow even faster.

Zozo to launch cosmetics and premium zones

Zozo promised significant category expansion 18 months ago and it has delivered. Last year, the online mall added a dedicated footwear section complete with measuring tool and then a new section offering a large line up of DtoC brands. This Spring it will add cosmetics alongside yet another data collection tool, this time for skin analysis, as well as a new premium and luxury section with 70 brands.

Deflation possible, savings need to be unlocked

Despite carefully crafted press comment that insists deflation is still unlikely, the government is once again begging companies to increase wages this Spring, while simultaneously pushing mobile phone carriers to reduce their prices. Forecasts suggest wage increases will likely be lower than at any time in the past seven years, while savings rates in 2020 broke new records. This means sometime, somehow, the better retailers need to get households to spend again.

Shopping mall development stalls

Only 35 new SCs are expected to open this year, the lowest number in more than two decades and five of these will be rebuilds of other shopping facilities. At the same time, the character of new malls is changing, with dining making up 24% of new sales last year, up nine points, and merchandise tenancies accounting for only just over half.

World to open 7 Laura Ashley stores this Spring

World is working hard to diversify from its dependence on the mid-level fashion market as both its department store and shopping centre brands retreat in the face of competition and lower apparel consumption. But it needs to fill the empty concessions in department stores and one solution is the UK brand, Laura Ashley.

Base attracts 1.3 million merchants

Base has seen a ten-fold Increase in its share price since its IPO last year, boosted by a sharp increase in new merchants wanting to set up an online store easily. While only some of these provide a return, Base is expanding complementary services, including credit for micro businesses.

New Emergency means new opportunities for supermarkets

Supermarkets were much better prepared for Japan’s second state of emergency compared to the first last Spring. Most now have systems in place, both to make shopping safe and quick in stores, but also to offer a robust online ordering model. There is now an opportunity for the best mid-sized chains to shine, with companies like Yaoko suggesting those customers used to ordering at the bigger online stores are switching to ordering from local chains.

Tsutaya: data helps book stores survive and thrive

Former video rental chain, Tsutaya, is challenging the gradual shift towards digital magazine and book publishing, building its own, unique style of bookstore using data collection and analysis tools originally created for its loyalty marketing business.

Kintetsu the franchisee

Kintetsu Department Store watched as a seemingly inevitable decline hit its business in the five years to 2018. The railway-backed retailer has realised that there is still plenty of traffic going through its stations and that the problem was the wrong kind of retail offer. To fix this, rather than just call in tenants, Kintetsu became an active franchisee in an experiment that is clearly working.

Yamada Holdings cleans house

Yamada Holdings will merge eight subsidiary chains in July as it aims to become a comprehensive electronics, home and interiors group.

Retail Data: Shopping Centre sales down 14% in December


DtoC brand, Anuans sells ¥92m on launch day

Staff Start creates online package with ECbeing

Locondo profits surge on higher sales

@cosme ties with KDDI for virtual store

Mash does real estate

Seicomart: free shopping bags win customers

HQ moves reflect more remote working

AirCloset ties the fashion circle

B8ta opens 3rd store

Ginza Six: first renewal in March

Alpen expects 3-fold jump in profits

Camping gear selling well

Tokyu Hands to sell on ShopChannel

Aeon’s Regi Go self-scanning system coming to 1,000 stores

Hanshin tries out VR shopping

Uniqlo Pay launches in January

Seino and Aeronext to begin drone deliveries

Qol developing prescriptions by robot

Electronics retailer voted best on Rakuten

Bars & restaurants being hit hard

Takashimaya takes over Mitsukoshi space in Nagoya

Aeon Mall to close major property in Nagoya

Brands and Companies In this Issue

Adastria, 1
Aeon, 8-13, 16, 21-22
Aeronext, 11
AirCloset, 7
Akachan Honpo, 4, 21
Alpen, 8, 12
Amazon, 1, 3, 5, 11-12, 16, 20-22
Anuans, 3
Askul, 1, 20, 22
Authentic Brands, 3
B8ta, 7
Barney, 1, 3-4
Baycrews, 4, 21
Bic Camera, 16, 21-22
Bulgari, 6
CCC, 12
Chloe, 6
Clinique, 3
Cross Mall, 11
Daiei, 9, 11
Daikuma, 13
Daimaru Matsuzakaya, 10
Daiwa House, 9
Diamond Head, 3
Dinos Cecile, 22
Don Quijote, 22
Dot One, 3
ECbeing, 3
Eimy Istoire, 3
Estee Lauder, 3
Fashionwalker, 4
Fast Retailing, 8, 20-21
Felissimo, 6
Flow Makers, 3
Ginza Six, 8
GU, 4
Gucci Watch, 8
Hanshin Umeda, 10
Isetan House, 13
Itochu Shoji, 9
Izutsuya, 4
Japan Post, 1, 3
Japanet Takada, 7
Joshin Denki, 12, 16
Jun, 23
Kanebo, 5
Kasumi, 9, 12
KDDI, 4-5, 22
Kenzo, 3
Kintetsu, 1, 4, 13
Kohnan Shoji, 4
Laura Ashley, 1, 9-10
Lawson, 22
Legoland Japan, 13
Life Corp, 20
Locondo, 4, 21
Loewe, 6
Loft, 17, 21
Lohaco, 20-21
Magaseek, 21
Maji Treats, 13
MakeShop, 21
Marc Jacobs, 3, 6
Maruetsu, 9
Marui, 3, 10
Maruyoshi, 12
Mash Holdings, 5, 21
Mercari, 11, 21-22
Milleporte, 6-7
Mitsubishi Estate, 7, 13
Mitsubishi Shoji, 20
Mitsui, 5
Mitsukoshi, 1, 13
Montblanc, 6
Muji, 1, 4-5
Natural Lawson, 12
Neologi, 10
Nitori, 1, 20
Ocado, 12, 16
Off White, 8
Oisix, 12
One Dot, 3
Otsuka Kagu, 13
Owndays, 13
PayPay, 7
Qol, 11-12
Qoo10, 21-22
Raf Simons, 6
Rakuma, 21
Rakuten, 1-3, 7, 11-12, 15-16, 20-22
Regi Go, 9
Ryohin Keikaku, 4
Sagawa, 11
Sazaby, 5
Secoma, 6
Seicomart, 6
Seijo Ishii, 13
Seino Holdings, 11
Seiyu, 12, 16, 20
Seven Eleven, 5-6, 20
Shimachu, 12
Shimamura, 1, 8
Shiseido, 17
ShopChannel, 9
Shopify, 11
ShopList, 21
Sofina, 5
Softbank, 7
Sotetsu Railway, 4
Staff Start, 3-4
Thom Browne, 6
Tokushimaru, 1, 5
Tokyu Hands, 9, 13, 17
TSI, 21
Tsuruha, 1
Tsutaya, 1, 12
Uniqlo, 1, 4, 10, 20
United Arrows, 1, 5
United Nude, 8
Vanish Standard, 3
Wowma, 21-22
Yahoo Japan, 7
Yamada Holdings, 1, 13
Yamato Transport, 11
Yamazen, 12, 21
Yell Bank, 10
Yodobashi Camera, 16, 21-22
Yon, 17
Zozo, 1, 6-7, 15-17, 21-22


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