Tokyo, April 1 (Jiji Press)–All four major Japanese department store operators Wednesday reported record year-on-year decreases in same-store sales in March due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
The March drops exceeded those during the global financial crisis triggered by the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers and immediately after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan hard.
The latest results reflected slumps in the number of domestic and foreign customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as shortened store hours and temporary closures following stay-at-home requests issued by local governments.
J. Front Retailing Co. <3086>, which runs the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores, saw the biggest decline of 44.1 pct, followed by Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. <3099> and Takashimaya Co. <8233>, both marking a fall of 35.1 pct. Sogo & Seibu Co., a unit of Seven & i Holdings Co. <3382>, incurred a drop of 31.9 pct.
While department store sales fell nationwide, sluggishness was especially noticeable at mainstay outlets in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Osaka, western Japan.
Duty-free sales sank by around 90 pct at all companies other than Sogo & Seibu, hurt by Japan’s entry restrictions imposed on travelers from China and other countries.
J. Front Retailing took a “greater” blow than during the financial crisis and following the March 2011 disaster, an official said.
A Sogo & Seibu official said that the effects of the pandemic “are significantly large.”
The industry is concerned about its future.
“We’ll have shorter operating hours and temporary closures in April as well, so we are in a tough spot,” an Isetan Mitsukoshi official said.
The end of the virus crisis is “nowhere in sight,” a Takashimaya official said. “We can’t make any forecasts about our future.”