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Business

3 out of 5 top Japanese department stores see sales rise in July

Big-ticket spending was strong, but discounts took a toll

TOKYO -- Sales at three out of five major Japanese department store operators grew in July thanks to spending by foreign tourists and affluent consumers, although some took hits from earlier-than-usual discounts at the end of June.

Existing-store sales climbed for the month at H2O Retailing's Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings' core unit and J. Front Retailing's Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores. But turnover slipped at Takashimaya and Seven & i Holdings' Sogo & Seibu.

Osaka-based Hankyu Hanshin's sales grew 5.2% on the year, rising for the eighth straight month. Its flagship Hankyu Umeda store saw sales of handbags jump 18%, while cosmetics soared 24%. Women's clothing sales saw a 2% gain from a year earlier, thanks to the popularity of imported apparel.

The department store chain found buyers for jewelry costing over 10 million yen ($90,600) -- a result attributed to the wealth effect from a steady-going stock market. Sales of tax-free items to foreign visitors surged 70%, underpinned by cosmetics sales that roughly doubled. The opening of Kansai International Airport's low-cost carrier terminal -- a gateway to Osaka -- played a major role in boosting customer numbers, the retailer said.

Isetan Mitsukoshi's sales advanced 0.8%, supported by foreign tourists and big-ticket buying at its three main stores, including the Mitsukoshi in Tokyo's Ginza district.

Daimaru Matsuzakaya's July sales were up 0.6%, growing for the fifth consecutive month. Although an earlier-than-usual discount period hurt sales by 1-1.5%, the drop was offset by robust purchases of accessories such as sunglasses, as well as tax-free items.

Takashimaya's sales fell 0.2%, dropping for the first time in five months. Tax-free items and luxury goods performed well, but sales slumped 4.2% for menswear and 9.8% for womenswear. Sogo & Seibu's sales tumbled 1.2%, the first decline in four months. While sales of foreign-brand luxury accessories and food topped previous-year results, earlier discounts slowed turnover in women's clothing.

(Nikkei)

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