November 2023 Issue
Inflation at 30 year high
The CPI hit 3% in September, excluding fresh food and adjusting for consumption tax. Prices are rising due to increased global supply costs. While the government and multiple economists optimistically expect price rises to level out, households are feeling the pinch and may well cut back spending even more.
Editorial: Inflation consciousness
Young customers help Isetan Shinjuku to record sales
A return to 2019 levels of sales is still months off for some department stores and may not ever happen for some others. Meanwhile, Isetan Shinjuku will not only exceed 2019 sales but hit a new record.
Yahoo merged with PayPay Mall
Most customers didn’t understand the difference between PayPay Mall and Yahoo Shopping, and now that the two malls have been merged, they no longer have to. Z Holdings is still trying to retain the stamp of quality for merchants from PayPay through badges and better integration.
OK Super confirms Kansai invasion
OK Super has acquired a large site in Higashi Osaka and confirmed plans for its first store in Kansai with a target opening date of 2024. The Tokyo-based, EDLP supermarket chain is eagerly anticipated by price-conscious locals and could well shake-up the food market in Japan’s second largest conurbation.
Flying Tiger expands again
The first Flying Tiger store landed in Japan 10 years ago and, since then, the Danish chain has built a loyal following but retreated somewhat after the initial clamour. The retailer is now branching out again and tweaking both store formats and product ranges to better suit Japanese, who love low-priced, original variety goods. But Flying Tiger faces a growing number of competitors.
Shimamura set for another record
Like Workman and Honeys, Shimamura has been a beneficiary of household budget worries during Covid and inflation concerns since. The apparel retailer has also worked hard to develop better cost performance ranges and more exciting marketing through collaborations with influencers, helping regain footfall levels.
Lawson launches AI system for real-time price markdowns
With three food deliveries a day, convenience stores need to continually optimise stocks and decide how to sell unsold items, most of which have only been on shelves for a few hours. While other chains deal with this problem manually by offloading the burden of optimal ordering and the cost of unsold stock onto franchisees, Lawson has a new AI system that can automatically apply markdowns on any item without the need for skilled labour in the store.
J Front gets into gaming
J Front has acquired a stake in an e-sports management business and will use this to target younger people, drawing them into its buildings through themed events. Event marketing has become a key weapon for department stores and shopping buildings, as has direct marketing to the wealthy, both young and old – it boosts profits too.
Beaujolais Nouveau prices to rise
Shipping costs will push up the price of the latest batch of Beaujolais Nouveau when it arrives in Japan on 17 November. Suntory and others will increase prices significantly, but some retailers are making big efforts to keep prices down.
Workman: still scaling new highs
Although spending on non-necessities withered from March 2020 onwards, some low-cost retailers of discretionary items continued to grow. Workman’s mix of high cost performance and engagement with the ever more active outdoor market has supported expansion, even if same-store sales growth has slowed. While the company has issued conservative forecasts, category expansion could deliver higher same-store sales. Even without that, expansion to 1,500 stores and beyond is a given.
Nitori retreats from the US but gets muscular in Japan and Asia
Nitori is one of a small number of Japanese retailers to brave the US market recently. Well-known for being the graveyard of foreign retailers, the US has beaten Nitori for now and it will instead focus on Japan and the rest of Asia. Its ability to leverage its efficient supply chains to lower prices will likely lead it to further dominance at home and allow it to compete effectively in the rest of Asia and, as hinted, re-enter the US market when it is on a stronger international footing.
CB Cloud to take on Yamato and Sagawa in last mile courier service
Japan’s big three couriers are efficient and highly trusted but they continue to struggle with high demand generated from growth in e-commerce. There is room for more players and CB Cloud, which is already working with Seven Eleven and Lawson, is setting up a competing system.
Fashion Retailing 2021-22: recovery starts slow but momentum builds
After suffering the sharpest sales falls since WWII in 2020, the fashion and apparel sector made a partial recovery last year but was still significantly down on 2019. 2022 looks a lot brighter with customers now back in stores and even inbound tourists starting to make their way to Japan again. The same challenges that the sector faced before Covid remain, however, and there is plenty of room to grow by taking share from the less innovative competitors both in low-price apparel and premium fashions. The sector saw the highest fall in store numbers in its history last year, but there was more investment in better stores and in creating a compelling omnichannel model suited to Japan’s particular market.
Shein to open world-first permanent store in Tokyo
Amazon investment in Japan reaches ¥4.5 trillion
Shopping malls up 12.7% in September
Footwear market up 2.6%, prices rising and falling
Pal up 24% as fashion recovers
Takashimaya Kyoto mall opening in 2023
Department stores caught breaking duty-free rules
Onward back in the black
New law allows customers to cancel subscriptions fairly
Ikebukuro to get new landmark
Harajuku Quest plans confirmed
Kao’s Est cosmetics launches subscriptions
Haneda gets new mall
New, chilled delivery lockers in Kobe
Babies go digital
Snow Peak in China
Seibu Ikebukuro appealing to younger clientele
Seven Eleven working with ANA on drone deliveries
Golf Digest opens store
Self photo studios booming
New multi-format Valor development
Sogo Seibu opens renewed e-commerce site
Joint distribution reduces emissions by 45%
Cosmetics market up 2.5%
Welcia and Tsuruha to try combined delivery
Retail Data: As everyone says nowadays: Bouncing Back Better