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Japan's Laox stalls as tourist shopping boom fades

Tax-free retailer at crossroads amid changing spending trends

How to keep serving the increasing ranks of visitors to Japan is a key question for Laox.

TOKYO -- Tax-free store operator Laox, which once enjoyed record earnings from the phenomenon known as bakugai, or "explosive buying" by visitors to Japan, is struggling to keep up with consumers' shifting spending habits.

Though travelers to Japan from China and elsewhere have not decreased, their buying trends have changed, with a greater focus on experience-based consumption rather than the purchase of goods. Consequently, Laox is among many Japanese retailers racking their brains to find new business opportunities.

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