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Four major Japanese department store operators saw their sales in the March-November period last year drop by around 30% to 40% from a year before, according to their earnings reports released by Thursday.

The sales declines are due chiefly to temporary store closures last spring and a significant decrease in the number of foreign travelers to Japan amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

With the spread of infections accelerating in Japan since late last year, “Sales declines at large stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area have become larger,” said an official from Sogo & Seibu Co., a unit of retail giant Seven & i Holdings Co.

Three of the four major department store operators reported operating losses for the first three quarters of the current business year.

Operating loss totaled ¥10.5 billion at Takashimaya Co., ¥7.0 billion at Sogo & Seibu and ¥3.2 billion at Matsuya Co. This is the first operating loss for Takashimaya since the company started to disclose its quarterly results in 2002.

J. Front Retaining Co., which operates Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores, secured an operating profit of ¥1.8 billion in the nine-month period, helped by cost-cutting efforts and steady real estate business.

For the fiscal year ending February, Sogo & Seibu revised down its sales projection to ¥441.5 billion from ¥449 billion, due to the impact of a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

Takashimaya, Sogo & Seibu and Matsuya kept unchanged their estimates of operating losses at ¥18 billion, ¥8.8 billion and ¥4.4 billion, respectively.

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