• Kyodo


Department store sales in Japan fell 22.0 percent in August from a year ago for the 11th straight month of decline, hit by the coronavirus pandemic and hot weather that prompted people to refrain from going out, an industry body said Thursday.

The decline was steeper than the 20.3 percent decrease in July, according to data by the Japan Department Stores Association, underscoring the continued challenges facing the retail industry.

Sales totaled ¥323.12 billion ($3.1 billion) at 203 outlets run by 73 companies. As Japan maintained sweeping travel restrictions, duty-free sales took a hit from a sharp drop in foreign tourists, sliding 86.1 percent to ¥3.55 billion.

August is normally a good opportunity for store operators to draw customers as many Japanese people take summer holidays.

This year, however, the pandemic forced store operators to cancel or scale down promotional events, which greatly reduced the number of shoppers, the association said, at a time when people remained vigilant against the novel coronavirus.

As people spent more time at home, demand for fresh food and alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine was solid, although food items as a whole reported a 17.7 percent fall.

Confectionery products saw a 27.0 percent drop, partly because many people did not visit their family members or relatives during the holiday season, which curbed demand for gifts, the association said.

Clothing sales slumped 23.2 percent, it said.

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