Those 100 yen shops, symbols of collapsing prices, are popular with foreign tourists visiting Japan.
The shops are so popular that some operators have opened franchise stores abroad.
About 40 percent of the customers visiting the Narita store of Daiso Industries Ltd., the largest 100 yen shop operator, are foreign tourists or flight crew members of foreign airline companies.
This is due in large part to the store’s geographical proximity to Narita airport.
Among hot sellers are cosmetics, plastic bags and stationery, a clerk said.
Foreign customers also purchase more items than Japanese customers.
“Some foreign customers purchase more than 100 items at a time,” the clerk said.
“We can find similar products in Jakarta, but the quality of Japanese goods is superior,” said Nonie, a Garuda Indonesia Airlines employee shopping for toys for her daughter.
Dagmar Kemper, an Austrian Airlines flight crew member, purchased a basketful of chandlery for a birthday party.
“Prices (for the same products) in Austria are twice or three times as high as in Japan,” she said.
Kemper said she visits the store every time she comes to Japan.
Stores with low, uniform prices have opened in Vienna, among other places, but compared with Vienna “prices are cheaper here in Japan,” she said.
A Daiso Industries official said the company has begun displaying its signs in English, as the ratio of foreign customers has also increased at its Harajuku and Ueno shops.
Seria Ltd., another major 100 yen shop operator, has begun supplying its goods to such countries as the United States, South Korea, China and the Philippines as well as to Taiwan after it received inquiries about opening similar shops.
Daiso Industries, for its part, has opened a store in Singapore and a franchise in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.
The company began supplying goods to Bangkok in May and opened “80 baht (about 230 yen) shops,” the first such shops in Thailand.
The uniform price of the company’s products is about 130 yen in Singapore and about 230 yen in the Philippines.