May 8 2024

Tourists boost Japan retail but locals hold back

Highlights from JapanConsuming monthly report

News and Analysis on Japanese retailing and consumers

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May 2024 Issue

Tourist spending per head up 50% on 2019 amid record arrivals

The rebound in tourist numbers after Covid was inevitable but more surprising has been the huge diversity of nationalities, making up for the lag in Chinese visitors, and the much, much higher spend per visitor.

Editorial: Polyglot Japan

Luxottica buys Washin Optical, Paris Miki next?

Luxottica has always played a long game in Japan but since 2018 the eyewear giant has been investing in local production and a growing store network. Its new acquisition of Washin Optical’s 70 stores may not be its last.

Seven & I letting go of Ito-Yokado at last?

Seven & I plans to consolidate its supermarket operations, and has presented plans to then take it public around 2027. It will need to bring Ito-Yokado back to profit first if the idea is to work and, although Seven & I says it wants to keep at least a 15% stake, there is the strong possibility that the move will result in a sale – just as investors have long demanded.

Yutori moves into cosmetics

Yutori , the Zozo-controlled online fashion mall, is diversifying into cosmetics and other items as it expands, with sales up 74% so far this year.

Mitsui Fudosan expands omnichannel services for brands

There are hundreds of services and platforms to help D2C brands sell online but not many that combine support to also open stores and unify online and offline inventory. Mitsui Fudosan has launched a new service that does all this through collaboration with some of the leading logistics and shop opening services.

PPI: success through staff empowerment

Some Japanese companies can seem almost militaristic in devaluing individual initiative, but Japan’s largest discounter, Don Quijote, has long eschewed this approach, empowering its lower paid, “part-time” employees. This not only builds motivation and increases job satisfaction, but also improves profits. Although unusual, the positive impact at its Uny GMS chain is clear in its latest financial results.

Onward to omnichannel

Until recently, Onward Holdings looked set for a gradual decline into insignificance like its main channel of regional department stores. But Onward has instead become an exemplar of how to make omnichannel retailing work, with growing sales across both online and a burgeoning new store network.

New records for (some) dept. stores

JC has long forecast the demise of regional department stores and the emergence of an elite group of luxury emporiums in big cities, but the gap between the two has widened sharply in the past six months, boosted in part by tourists flocking to big city stores. At Matsuya Ginza, duty-free sales accounted for an historic 33% of sales last year.

Stellar year for conbini chains

The three big convenience store chains all posted record financial results for FY2023. The format’s limitations were exposed by the pandemic, providing a catalyst for some major changes and prompting new and innovative marketing and support services. These have made the sector more robust, but whether this new surge of growth will continue in 2024 will depend on how concerned customers are with higher prices.

Shimamura targets sales of ¥720 bn

Shimamura continues to grow at a solid rate after struggling to find relevance in the five years to 2021. Its growing success with collaborative brands and direct sourcing has delivered new and younger fans in city centres, and the low-cost apparel retailer now plans to build more stores in the four big conurbations.

Heiwado under pressure

GMS face intense competition, as the fate of Ito-Yokado shows, but Heiwado is determined to maintain market share.

E-commerce Briefing: Yahoo still falling further behind Amazon and Rakuten

Yahoo Shopping looks to be in trouble after five straight quarters of negative growth while Amazon and Rakuten move ahead. Despite a forecast revenue increase for 4Q2023, Yahoo Shopping continues to suffer from a poor reputation for controlling merchant fraud and a lack of transparency, as well as a longer-term problem of having no clear USP. If effective integration between the many parts of LY Corp is not forthcoming soon, the company may eventually attract activist funds demanding better synergies or even a breakup, as well as a stick-wielding Softbank.

Apparel Briefing: A supermarket clothing revival?

The clothing sections of GMS chains and supermarkets have declined so far in relevance that most assume the format will disappear entirely. But new efforts by Aeon, as well as collaborations by the likes of Ito-Yokado with the very apparel retailers that have taken market share away, could lead to a new lease of life and new competition in apparel mass markets.

Retail Data: Shopping Malls up 7.4% in March


Rebel Seven Eleven owner loses court case

Itochu acquires master license for Kappa

Aeon’s Green Beans gets 160,000 users

Runners still running

Mitsui Kisarazu to expand to 330 tenants, new mall in Okazaki

e-Gifts popular among younger men

Seven Eleven installs AI cameras in 500 stores

Recruit to close Ponpare Mall

Frozen food demand remains strong

Amazon strengthens ties with NTT Docomo

ABC Mart pulls further ahead

Amazon Lockers in every prefecture

Clarks opens first Clarks store in Japan

Largest DC in Kyushu opens

Cesare Attolini sets up in Japan

Zegna up 30% in Japan

Rakuten Points to tie with Accor’s ALL scheme

Seven Eleven to get new freezers

Parco collaborates with Hyundai Department Store

Welcia acquires drugstore arm of Inageya

Trial hopes to create retail innovation hub

Yamada invests in Giftmall

Haruyama to move HQ to save money

Hearst Fujingaho launches Elle Gourmet and Elle Decor online stores

Kitte Osaka to open in July with 107 tenants

Sanyo Shokai makes a profit

Locondo down 3%


Companies and Brands in this Issue

Accor Hotels, 10
Adastria, 1, 16–17
Aeon, 3, 7, 11, 16
Aeon Hokkaido, 17
Aeon Kyushu, 17
Aeon Mall, 9
Amazon, 1, 5–8, 14–15
Anfilo, 9
Artek, 12
Asahi Logistics, 9
Avail, 13
Beisia, 16–17
Birthday, 13
Cainz, 17
Calbee, 11
Cesare Attolini, 9
Chambre, 13
Clarks Japan, 9
Closshi Premium, 13
Cocokara Fine, 8
Counterworks, 6
Cox, 16
Cross Plus, 16
Daimaru Matsuzakaya, 3, 10
Daiso, 12
Don Quijote, 6–9
ELLE, 12
Ermenegildo Zegna, 9
EssilorLuxottica, 3
Exique, 6
Familymart, 3, 11–12, 17
Found Good, 17
Fukui Megane, 3
Genky Drugstores, 13
Giftmall, 12
Green Beans, 3–4
Hankyu, 1
Hapi Labo, 17
Haruyama Holdings, 12
Hearst Fujingaho, 12–13
Heiwado, 1, 13, 17
HMV, 11
Hyundai, 10–11
Inageya, 11
Isetan Shinjuku, 10
Itochu Shoji, 3
Izumi, 17
Izumiya, 17
Jade Group, 13
Jalan, 6
Japan Post, 13
Joinus, 18
Jonetsu Kakaku, 8
Junko Shimada, 16
Kappa, 3
KDDI, 7, 12
Kitte, 13
Kokubu, 11
Lalaport, 6
Lawson, 3, 7, 11–12
Life Corporation, 17
Locondo, 13
Lohaco, 14–15
Louis Vuitton, 1
Luxottica Japan, 3
LY, 14–15
Magaseek, 13
Marche Rouge, 16
Matsuya, 1, 9–10
Mega Donki, 17
Megane Super, 3
Mercari Bin, 15
Mina Perhonen, 12
Mirari Japan, 3
Mitsui Fudosan, 1, 4, 6
Mitsukoshi, 1, 10
Mizuno, 5
Moove, 16
Muji, 1, 11
Nippon Ham, 11
NTT, 7
Nugu, 10
Oakley Japan, 3
Oliver Peoples, 3
Onward Crosset, 8–9
Onward Holdings, 8–9
OpenLogi, 6
Oshman’s, 8
OwnDays, 3
Parco, 10–11
Paris Miki, 1, 3
Phenix, 3
Piago, 7
Ponpare Mall, 6
PPI, 1, 6–8
Qoo10, 5
Rakuten, 1, 5–6, 14–15
Reebok, 13
Renown, 8
Runnet, 5
Sanyo Shokai, 8, 13
Seven Eleven, 3–6, 10–12, 17
Shiffon, 3
Shimamura, 1, 12–13, 17
Shopcounter, 6
Softbank, 15
Sony, 6
Sporsium, 16
Studio Clip, 17
Sugi, 13
Suntory, 11
TakaQ, 16
Takashimaya, 1, 3, 10
Tokyo Tatemono, 9
Tokyu Land, 9
TopValu, 16
Toshin Kaihatsu, 10
Trial Holdings, 11
Tsuruha, 1
TVC, 16–17
Uber Eats, 11–12
Uny, 6–8, 17
USMH, 11
Valor, 7
Washin Optical, 3
Welcia, 11
Wellpark, 11
Yahoo, 1, 14–15
Yamada Holdings, 12
Yamato Transport, 15
Yorimo, 17
York Benimaru, 4–5, 17
Yutori, 1, 5
Zoff, 3
Zozo, 5, 9, 14–15, 17


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