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Japan's cosmetics shipments top record

Makeup exports, shopping by tourists underpinned increase

Foreign tourists hunt for cosmetics at a drugstore in Osaka.

TOKYO -- Shipments by Japan's cosmetics makers rose 1.2% to a record 1.52 trillion yen ($13.8 billion) in 2016, aided by rising exports and robust demand from foreign visitors.

The value of shipments climbed for the fifth consecutive year, beating the 1997 record of 1.51 trillion yen. But the growth rate slowed for the second straight year, sliding from a 4.3% gain in 2014 and a 1.3% increase in 2015.

Foreign tourists provided the foundation for the boost, as they increased overall spending 7.8% to 3.74 trillion yen in Japan last year, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. Cosmetics are especially popular, with some estimates showing that 70% of visitors buy such products. Japanese makeup company Shiseido's inbound-tourist sales grew 30% to 34.5 billion yen for the year ended in December.

Exports also supported the lift, rising 28.8% to a record 267.6 billion yen in 2016, the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association says. For the first time, Japanese cosmetics exports exceeded imports, which dropped by 3.7%. Foreign tourists bought Japanese cosmetics online or in stores upon their return home.

Lipstick produced the largest jump in shipments by product, brightening 14.9% to 42.5 billion yen. Blush climbed 5.5%, followed by a 4.1% increase for mascara and eyebrow makeup. Face lotion, which accounts for more than 10% of cosmetics shipments, also edged up 2.3%.

Shipments should remain rosy this year. Shiseido's operating profit hit a record 24.1 billion yen for the January-March quarter, while operating profit for Pola Orbis Holdings soared 150%.


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