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August Japan retail sales remain lacklustre

Japan’s retail recovery continued to proceed slowly during August following the largest recorded single-quarter sales decline in the nation’s history.

According to the country’s Cabinet Office, the national real gross domestic product for April to June fell by 28.1 per cent year on year, performing worse than at the depths of the global financial crisis in 2009.

WWD reported a poll of major retailers in the market, finding sales performance between the firms generally low. Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing was an exception, seeing a 29.8-per-cent increase in same-store sales growth during August, with summer products selling fast in the midst of the current Japanese heatwave. About 90 Uniqlo stores are still operating below peak hours, however, two have been permanently shuttered and six remain closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In contrast, Isetan Mitsukoshi saw sales drop by 29.1 per cent under last year’s results, especially hard hit at its Mitsukoshi store in an area traditionally popular with foreign travellers, where sales fell 47.8 per cent. Takashimaya’s sales dropped 18.8 per cent against August figures for last year across 13 department stores.

“In addition to a drastic decline in tax-free sales, the effects of a heatwave and the continuing trend of people refraining from going out resulted in not being able to meet the sales levels of last year,” Takashimaya was quoted by WWD. “On the other hand, we did see movement of items meant to make people’s time spent at home more comfortable, as well as of luxury brand goods.”

Hankyu and Hanshin department store chains operator H2O Retailing saw a sales decline of 15 per cent, with same-store sales down 26.9 per cent. J. Front Retailing were hit with a sales drop of 29.4 per cent year on year in August, commenting “Sales of volume fashions and food products in particular suffered”.

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