Isetan puts off summer clothing sale again

JIJI

Leading department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. plans to launch next year’s special summer clothing sale on Aug. 1 instead of July 13 like this year as it continues to grope for a way to halt the decline in summer profits.

This year’s launch date was delayed by two weeks to avoid alienating customers who are lured in by deep discounts only to find that the items they want are already gone, company officials said Monday.

Isetan Mitsukoshi said it will put stronger emphasis on its traditional business — offering products in stock at regular prices and with courteous services, they said.

The company saw July sales fall 2.6 percent from the year before, defying its projections for improvement. But its rivals suffered similar drops in the month, even though they kicked off their summer sales events two weeks early on July 1 as usual, the officials pointed out.

Rival Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co., a unit of J. Front Retailing Co., posted a 1.5 percent drop while Sogo & Seibu Co., a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co., logged a 3.1 percent drop.

At Isetan Mitsukoshi, sales of regularly priced items accounted for some 70 percent of its total for the month, up about 5 percent year on year, boosting its gross profit margin ratio.

President Hiroshi Onishi said the delayed clearance sale is part of his company’s efforts to “establish an ideal way of doing business in three to five years despite temporary sales drops.”