Amid the pandemic, many companies are hurting while some with a stay-home bent are thriving. Still others are turning to new tech to survive. Here are some snapshots from COVID-era Japan:
- The clothing industry is a mixed bag. While century-old apparel maker Renown has gone into liquidation amid plunging sales, Uniqlo’s lineup of functional and casual attire is tailor-made for slouching around the house, helping push its parent company’s earnings to an all-time high.
- Men’s clothing retailer Aoyama Trading will close 160 stores and reduce floor space at about 400 more as the boom in telework hits demand for suits. The firm is considering selling the vacated space to convenience stores, gyms, share offices and the like. Ad giant Dentsu may go further and get rid of its Tokyo HQ altogether, as only 20% of staff come to the office these days.
- Devices designed for something completely different are now being co-opted into the fight against COVID-19. Take the 3D LiDAR People Counter: Originally meant to track shoppers and crunch sales data, it now monitors movements to reduce congestion and infection risks. It also checks temperatures and whether customers are wearing masks or have used hand sanitizer stations.
- Kawasaki Heavy Industries has produced a prototype of an automated COVID-19 testing machine that uses a robotic arm to take a sample from a person’s nose and can deliver the results in about 80 minutes. The mobile system, housed in a shipping container, can process up to 2,000 samples every 16 hours.
- With inbound demand nonexistent and domestic demand sluggish as people stay home, Japanese companies have started to sell products to Chinese consumers via livestreaming to plug the revenue hole and drive future growth. The potential is huge: More than 300,000 Chinese viewers tuned into one livestream by cosmetics firm Shiseido for its Maquillage makeup brand.