October 5 2021

Japan’s online fashion sales soar

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News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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October 2021 Issue

Online fashion sales soar
Contraction in apparel consumption aside, fashion retailers and brands have made dramatic strides to pull in customers online with e-commerce sales up 24% last year according to one survey, faster than the growth in e-commerce overall. Even some wholesalers are succeeding digitally.

Editorial: Ready to recover?

Alpen aims for record sales
Sports chain Alpen was one of the retailers to benefit from the pandemic as people looked to create home gyms and get out into nature. Alpen has also seen growing interest in sports like golf, where social distancing is implicit in the game.

H2O Retailing and OK Super battle over Kansai Supermarket
H2O Retailing, the biggest retail group in Kansai, announced in late August that it would expand its share in Kansai Supermarket to take a majority stake. As is usual, the announcement was made with full understanding and acceptance by Kansai Supermarket’s board and CEO, but things have not gone according to plan. We now face another situation where existing shareholders object to a cosy, pre-agreed takeover. In this case, the company objecting is OK Super, the Tokyo-based discount supermarket.

United Arrows unveils new online brand, goes after the wealthy
United Arrows has created a second brand for sale solely through e-commerce which, like the first, is much cheaper than its store brands and aimed at attracting more younger customers. The select shop retailer is also using digital services to try and attract and support wealthy consumers better, taking on the department stores.

Hanshin Umeda re-opens
Hankyu-Hanshin has worked hard to redevelop its Hanshin Umeda store on time and on budget but it will re-open at a tricky time. Nevertheless, Hanshin has reconfigured the building to avoid competition with the many other shopping options in the district by focusing more on food: while only 30% of space will be dedicated to this category, 60% of sales are forecast to come from eating.

Seven & I looks for growth overseas
Seven & I announced a new mid-term plan this summer with a switch in emphasis from domestic to international operations. This reflects the growing saturation in convenience stores at home and the need to show a return on its ¥2 trillion investment in the Speedway chain in the USA. Seven Eleven Japan will become even more important as the company’s profit engine.

Online food sales surge in 2020
Online food sales surged last year with people staying at home, causing a consequent downturn for restaurant sales. Yano’s recent report on non-store food retail suggests growth in online food will continue to be strong in 2021 with a retrenchment unlikely until 2022 at the earliest.

N+ Nitori: 18 stores and counting
Nitori+ isn’t on the radar of most apparel retail competitors because they think a furniture retailer can’t sell apparel. But, as Nitori’s 18th N+ store attests, the home furnishings retailer may have struck gold with its chain for women over 40 thanks to a mix of disciplined supply chains, simple designs and low prices.

Muji opens 7th supermarket store
Muji’s announcement last month that it is aiming to be a ¥3 trillion company by 2030 is being quickly backed up with new stores and refits of existing ones. Food will be a core part of the reinvented Muji business, with sales of ¥900 billion if the company meets its goals. The plan is to work with existing supermarkets to create formats that sell FMCG in a new and exciting way. The latest opened in Saitama last month.

Aeon launches a universal app
Aeon is aiming for e-commerce sales of ¥1 trillion by 2025 from virtually a standing start. It has Ocado technology coming online in 2023 and says it will spend ¥450 billion in new investment. Last month, it introduced iAeon, a new app that combines access to services across its entire group with an existing database of some 120 million users and more than one billion customer visits a year.

Shimamura strikes gold in pandemic
Shimamura has had a great 18 months as customers chose to shop near homes – where most Shimamura stores are located – and for more casual, comfy clothing, something Shimamura excels at. The retailer claims it has turned a corner but with much of its success down to external factors, it needs to do a lot more internally if it is to thrive longer-term.

Convenience Stores: first decline in 50 years

Convenience store retailing remains the most dynamic and innovative physical store sector. It is now 50 years since the first Seven Eleven opened and the sector wide drop in sales in 2020 was the first in its history. Whereas department stores also took a battering last year and are likely to struggle to recover, convenience stores should bounce back quickly, including implementing lessons learned in last year’s crisis. That does not mean the format faces no problems, with labour shortages, overly strict operating procedures and an ageing population of store owners all issues that need solutions, but its willingness and ability to adopt new technologies and adapt to the market will continue to keep CVS strong.

Retail Data: Consumption at home higher in pandemic

Swiss sports brand On comes to Tokyo
Daimaru Tokyo opens showroom store
Chinese luxury brand, Icicle, comes to Japan
Brewdog Japan established with Asahi
Nishimatsuya chain invests in private brands
Price is key for women buying fashion online
Isetan sells art online
JR upgrades NewWoman Shinjuku as sales rebound
Aeon aims for 5-fold increase in apparel brand sales
Amazon promotes exports with JETRO
Base opens first Kansai store
Ainz & Tulpe to close Harajuku store
Marui opens more Mercari Stations
Metro looks for buyer
Yamada Holdings’ founder makes his third-coming
DVD rentals becoming co-working spaces
CCC to launch social media trend analysis for food
Paidy acquired by PayPal
Daiei offers D2C fish orders
Yamada Denki ties with Arcland Sakamoto
Nankai’s An3 stores begin accepting Amazon pickups
Odakyu OX to sell Seven Premium ranges
Aeon Mall Noritake Garden to open at Nagoya Station
Seiyu to revamp its private brand lines  
Trial growing its capabilities

Brands and Retailers in this Issue

Adastria, 1, 3
Adidas, 3
Aeon, 1, 5, 8, 10–11, 15, 18
Ageing Store, 19
Ain Pharmaciez, 7
Alpen, 1, 3
Amazon, 7, 11
Arcland Sakamoto, 11
Asahi Breweries, 4
Askul, 1
Avail, 12–13
Bandai, 9
Baroque Japan, 5
Baycrews, 1
Belluna, 1
Bigi, 6
Brewdog Japan, 4
Cawachi Yakuhin, 1
Celiant, 6
ChooseBase, 3
Citen, 5
Coen, 6
Costco, 8
Cox, 1
Crooz Shoplist, 1
Cross Plus, 1
CyberAgent, 17
Daiei, 10
DCM, 4
Disney, 6
Ebay Japan, 5
Edion, 9
Familymart, 14–20
Fashionwalker, 1
Felissimo, 1
Francebed, 10
GeeRA, 1
Genky, 1
Godiva, 17
GU, 5
Gyomu Super, 8, 18
H2O, 1, 4–6, 17
Hankyu, 1, 3–6, 17
Hanshin Umeda, 1, 6–7
Hasegawa Store, 16
Isetan, 1, 5–6
Itochu Shoji, 10, 16
Itochu Shokuhin, 4
Izumiya, 4
Jun, 21
Kansai Super, 4–5
Kato Sangyo, 4
KDDI, 18
Keio, 17
Kinsho Shoji, 17
Kintetsu Group, 17
KKR, 12
Kokubu, 4
Komeri, 1
Kyushu Retail, 16
Laforet Harajuku, 7
Lalaport, 3
Lawson, 14–19
Leilian, 9
Life Corp, 11
Lixil, 11
Locondo, 1
Logos, 12
Lumine, 1
Magaseek, 1
Marui, 1, 7
Mash Holdings, 1
Matsuya, 1
Matsuzakaya, 1, 3
Mercari, 7–8
Metro, 8–9
Miki House, 1, 3
Ministop, 14–15, 18–19
Mitsubishi Shoji, 5
Muji, 1, 10–11, 17
Nankai Railways, 11
Narumiya International, 3
Newdays, 15–16
Nishimatsuya Chain, 1, 4
Nitori, 1, 4, 9–10
Ocado, 11
Odakyu, 17
Oisix, 8
Onward Crosset, 3
Paidy, 10
Pal Group, 1
PayPal, 10
Poplar, 15–16
Qoo10, 5
QVC, 1
Rakuten, 12
Ryohin Keikaku, 10
Sanyo Shokai, 3
Save On, 16
Seicomart, 14–15
Seijo Ishii, 17
Seiyu, 12–13
Select Square, 1
Seven Eleven, 7–8, 11, 14–20
Shimachu, 4, 10
Shimamura, 1, 4, 12–13
Shop Channel, 1
Shueisha, 1
Simmons, 10
Speedway, 7–8, 15
Staff Start, 3
Suica, 3
Sunkus, 16
Takashimaya, 1
Tigora, 3
Tobu, 10
TWG, 6
Uber Eats, 17
Uniqlo, 1, 4, 10, 13
United Arrows, 1, 5–6
Walmart, 12
WAON, 11
Wolt, 17
Yamada Denki, 11
Yamazaki Bread, 14, 16, 18
York Mart, 8
Zozo, 1, 3


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