Fall Apparel Sales Off to a Slow Start at Japanese Dept. Stores

Sales of fall apparel items at Japanese department stores appear to be off to a slow start.

As a result of rescheduling sales to earlier dates, the fashion scene was one of the most vigorous in seasons as midsummer garments sold well in July. However, sales increased sluggishly in August as three typhoons hit the country. While apparel is generally in a severe condition, moves in items made with autumn-color summer materials and new presentations began to appear.

Heat waves and lingering summer heat have increased difficulties for sales of autumn items. Consumer trends are increasingly moving in the direction of actual demand. These trends are especially prominent this year, and department stores are facing difficulties in steering their business.

According to Isetan Mitsukoshi, apparel sales showed a recovery in late June and July, but leveled off in August. Bridge brands usually start moving before luxury brands reveal their fall/winter collections, but bridge brands appear to be moving slightly slower this year. The bags and dresses of luxury brands are enjoying strong sales, but their collections are not rising as a whole. Other factors affecting sales are the decrease in average spending of foreign shoppers, and the fact that the Isetan Shinjuku Main Store was closed three days in August, or one more day than the previous year.

Takashimaya reported that sales were calm in July, but from the end of July, dresses made from summer-season fabrics but with autumn designs sold well.

Sogo & Seibu reported that the typhoons slowed down shoppers, but sales remained about the same for all categories as the previous year. The general trends during the last six months or so are that apparel sales are weak, while those of food and cosmetics are strong.

Apparel sales at Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores appear to be comparatively stronger. By August 24th, sales of women’s jackets, knitwear and pants surpassed the previous year, along with sales of men’s jackets.