Osaka’s department stores cashing in as LCC flights haul in more tourists

Kyodo

Department stores in Osaka are enjoying brisk sales as an increase in budget flights from other Asian countries brings more tourists to Japan.

According to the Japan Department Stores Association, sales at department stores in Osaka grew 7.3 percent year on year in June, posting their sixth consecutive monthly increase. The pace of growth was the strongest by region that month. Sales in Tokyo logged a 1.1 percent rise, the first in 11 months.

The increase in low-cost carrier flights to Kansai International Airport in Osaka helped boost foreign travelers at the airport to a record 6.79 million in the first half of 2017, up 12 percent.

At Kintetsu Department Store Co.’s main branch, the tax refund counter remains constantly crowded with foreign customers.

“Osaka is close to Kyoto and Nara, and there are more tourist spots (in its vicinity) than in Tokyo,” said a Chinese woman who had purchased cosmetics there as souvenirs for her relatives.

“We can also enjoy takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and other local cuisine,” she said.

The Kintetsu store says its business tie-ups with Universal Studios Japan in the city and some 90 overseas travel agencies are also paying off. It said tax-free sales in July had expanded about sixfold from a year earlier.

Abeno Harukas, Japan’s tallest building, houses Kintetsu’s store and “is becoming a tourist spot,” said Toshio Kubo, deputy manager of the store.

Hankyu Department Store’s main branch saw a rise of about 70 percent from a year earlier in tax-free sales in July, with jewelry and designer brand children’s clothing showing particularly strong growth.

“The number of foreign visitors to the Kansai area should continue to rise thanks to economic growth in emerging countries,” says Hideyuki Araki, analyst at Resona Research Institute Co.