June 13 2022

Japan’s apparel sector seeks new growth

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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June 2023 Issue

Big apparel looks for new relevance
The two leading apparel firms, World and Onward, posted largely negative results for 2021 although profitability improved for World, while 3rd ranked TSI pushed ahead thanks to the golf boom. The outlook for big apparel remains uncertain; although most executives are optimistic about a rebound in sales of premium apparel brands, they are also running around looking for ways to diversify. Sanyo Shokai, meanwhile, continues to promise a profit…one day.

Itochu takes license for Reebok
Just weeks after acquiring the rights to Under Armour in Japan, Itochu Shoji managed another coup, signing a master license for Reebok, further consolidating its already dominant hold on the Japanese sports market.

Decathlon closes Japan stores
Decathlon entered the retail market with the opportunity to take a significant share of a growing sports and athleisure sector, but the French firm is already retreating. It will close its two stores and focus on online and wholesaling. The market is poorer for it.

Average price increases of 10.6% since January
A summary of press articles since January reveal 125 separate price increase announcements published in the leading business paper alone. The average price increase was 10.6%, but some products have seen price hikes of up to 49% and some companies have made far more announcements than others.

Frozen food sales expand again in 2021
Frozen food sales are growing rapidly and the latest figures show that household demand for frozen foods continued to exceed commercial demand in 2021. The advantages of frozen foods for online food sales are clear and Japan’s coops are also investing in cold chain technology to meet demand.

Shimamura targets urban centres
Shimamura is on a roll at the moment, clawing back share after a troubled few years of mis-merchandising and confused targeting. After a record year, Shimamura now thinks its merchandise teams are strong enough to take on urban centre consumers – without raising operating costs.

Subscription usage close to 30%, 50% for under 30s
Subscription usage continues to rise this year across services as well as merchandise categories and a new survey suggests the under 30s love the subscription economy. Daimaru-Matsuzakaya’s luxury and designer brand rental business has been so successful that the company had to turn away new members for a while.

Women putting work before kids
The government has been keen to point out another slight flattening in the curve that shows childbearing age women are increasingly staying in the workforce. Although the government is happy to take credit for more nursery school places and new paternal leave allowances, the reality is that fewer women are having children.

Shopping mall sales up 3.8% in 2021, but few new openings
The shopping mall sector had a decent 2021, recovering some of the sales lost in 2020 although it remained well down on 2019. Mall development, however, ground to a halt with the lowest number of new malls since records began in 1977.

Trial Go: facial recognition payments
Discount retailer, Trial Company, opened its first Trial Go store in Fukuoka in April. The store features unmanned checkouts that use facial recognition for transactions and can even provide age confirmation for sales of things like alcohol.

OniGo ties with Uber Eats
Onigo signed a deal with Uber Eats last month to deliver from its dark stores. It is fast proving that, with rapid, reliable home delivery of food and FMCG, visits to supermarkets and convenience stores are no longer necessary.

Record sales for Pal Group driven by 300 Yen chain
Not many retailers could boast sales growth of more than 50% last year, especially a retailer from the fashion sector, but Pal Group’s 3Coins did thanks to the huge success of the discount fashion to home decor format.

Drugstores still gaining on other formats

The drugstore sector is now 30% larger than it was in 2015, the fastest growth of any retail channel other than e-commerce. In 2020 and 2021 that growth continued, with only some minor signs of slowing after the boost that many chains enjoyed at the beginning of the pandemic. The biggest news of the year is the completion of the merger between Matsumotokiyoshi and Cocokara Fine, and this move will likely set a precedent for more M&A at the top of the rankings. In addition, expansion into food means that drugstores are fast becoming competitors to other retailers and, by 2025, the sector could even break ¥10 trillion, matching the size of convenience stores.

Retail Data: Shopping malls surge in April

Familymart to supply prescriptions by courier
Z Holdings e-commerce up 10.9%
New mega project for Shibaura
Workman PLANS TO limit online orders to store pick up
Snow Peak up 40% in 1Q2022
Hankyu Kobe gets first upgrade in 20 years
Mercari to promote secondary distribution
Eating out still less than 2019
Mitsui Lala Garden Tsukuba to close
Parco leads new luxury development in Shinsaibashi
Matsuzakaya Nagoya doubles watch floor
Sazaby signs Outerknown, closes off-price store
Rakuten Seiyu launches new robot delivery
Lopia acquires stake in Super Value
Fair trade market up 20%
Marui to rebuild Shibuya flagship
Kintetsu sells candy with fashion
Haruyama boardroom fight emerges
PPI expanding rapidly in Asia
Uber Eats ties with Rakuten Pay
Seino offers consolidated delivery platform
Qol expanding collaboration with Muji
Ministop signs with Demae-can
Seven & I uses a day pass to get more customer visits

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Brands and companies in this issue:

Adastria, 1
Adidas, 4
Aeon, 1, 7, 13, 16–18
Alpen, 3, 5
Amazon, 5, 11, 18
Aoki, 1, 15–18
Askul, 1, 3
Avail, 8

Babolat, 4
Barneys, 4
Blande, 7

Calbee, 6
Cawachi, 1, 15–16, 18
CGC, 9
Chambre, 8
Chloe, 9
Ciaopanic, 13
Citizen, 7
Cocokara, 14–18
Colony2139, 13
Converse, 4
Cosmos, 15–18
Costco, 5, 13
Create, 15–16, 18
Crestbridge, 4

Daiichi, 18
Daiki, 18
Daikoku, 16, 18
Daimaru, 1, 9
Daiwa, 7
Decathlon, 1, 5
Demaecan, 13
Descente, 4
Direx, 16
Discoat, 13
Dojindo, 18
Dome, 4
Donki, 11

Edwin, 4
Epoca, 4
Estnation, 8
Evergreen, 18

Fairmont, 4
Familymart, 3, 12
Fila, 4
Fuji, 7, 16, 18

Genky, 1, 15–16, 18
Grandfront, 19
Gurunavi, 12

H2O, 16
Hankyu, 1, 5, 19
Hapycom, 16–17
Haruyama, 10–11
Heiwado, 18
Hokuriku, 18
Huf, 3
Hulic, 7

Inditex, 5
Isetan, 1
Itochu, 1, 4
Izumi, 2

JACDA, 14–15
JCSA, 19–20
JCSC, 11, 19–20
JDSA, 19–20
Joetsu, 12
Joinus, 19
Joix, 4

Kasumi, 6–7
King, 8
Kirindo, 16, 18
Kokumin, 16, 18
Komeri, 1
Komeya, 18
Kraft, 16
Kyokuyo, 6

Lawson, 13
Laxus, 1
Lindt, 5
LINE, 3, 13
Locondo, 4
Lopia, 9, 15
Lucua, 19
Lumine, 19

Mackintosh, 4
Makuhari, 5
Mango, 4
Marant, 9
Marni, 9
Marui, 9
Matsumotokiyoshi, 14–18
Matsuya, 1
Matsuzakaya, 1, 7, 9
Maxvalu, 13
Mechakari, 9
Medipal, 16
Megmilk, 6
Mercari, 5
Mercian, 6
Ministop, 13
Montbell, 5
Morinaga, 6
Muji, 1, 12–13
Musubi, 11
MyLord, 19

Narumiya, 1
Naturum, 5
Nautica, 4
Nestle, 6
Netflix, 9
Nichiryu, 16
Nishimatsuya, 1
Nisshin, 6
Nissin, 6
Nitori, 1

OniGo, 1, 12–13
Onward, 1, 3
Outerknown, 8

Pal, 1, 13
Panasonic, 8
Parco, 7, 19
PPI, 11

Qol, 12–13, 15–16
Quechua, 5

Rakuten, 5, 8, 11–12, 18
Reebok, 1, 4
Rolex, 7
Rosebud, 3

Salut, 13
Sazaby, 8
Scroll, 5
Seibu, 1, 7
Seiko, 8
Seino, 12
Seiyu, 2, 8, 12
Shimamura, 1, 3, 7–8
Shinseido, 18
Shunkado, 6
Softbank, 12
Sugi, 15–18
Sundrug, 14–16, 18
Suntory, 6
Sustina, 1

Taiyo, 12
Takashimaya, 1, 8, 19
Toppan, 3
TSI, 1, 3
Tsuruha, 1, 14–18
Tsutaya, 6

Uber, 1, 11–13
Uniqlo, 1, 6
Uuum, 8

Valentino, 9
Valor, 16

Welcia, 3, 14–18
Workman, 1, 3–5
World, 1, 3

Xebio, 5

Yahoo, 3
Yakkyoku, 3, 16, 18
Yakuodo, 15–16, 18
Yamazawa, 18

ZHD, 3


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