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Japanese department store sales drop 26.7 per cent in 2020

Japan

Japanese department store retail sales fell by more than 26 per cent in 2020, compared to last year, marking the sharpest annual decline in 45 years.

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Sales across Japan’s department stores totalled US$40.73 billion, the Japan Department Stores Association said, representing a 26.7 per cent decline from 2019 — the largest drop since comparable data became available in 1965. Same-store sales sank 25.7 per cent, said the industry body.

The industry body largely attributed the plummet to a slow in demand from inbound visitors to Japan during the Covid-19 pandemic. Temporarily store closures during the state of emergency declaration last April added to the annual decrease, with duty-free
sales falling 80.2 per cent from the previous year, the association said.

By region, annual department store sales in ten major cities including Tokyo and Osaka fell 28.1 percent, while sales in other regions dropped 19.4 per cent, on a same-store basis.

By product, clothing sales fell 31.1 per cent, on the back of a slump in demand for suits and dresses as more Japanese consumers worked from home. Sales of luxury products fell 22.8 per cent, especially jewellery and art work.

By month, December department store sales on a same-store basis fell 13.7 per cent from a year earlier, a sign of recovery in the industry with the decline smaller than the drop in November.

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According to the association, sales at 41 major department stores sank some 35 per cent in the first 18 days of January, as business hours were cut after the second state of emergency over the outbreak was declared in Japan.

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