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As Chinese stay home, Japan department stores face double-digit drops

Isetan, Takashimaya and retailers miss out on New Year bonanza

A tourist in a mask in a Tokyo store: Many big Japanese retailers offer foreign visitors the option of buying merchandise tax-free.

TOKYO -- Japan's big retailers are reporting a heavy hit to sales over the Lunar New Year holidays as the new coronavirus slows the flow of big-spending tourists from China.

Department stores in particular suffered double-digit drops in tax-free sales to tourists over the week starting Jan. 24, likely due to China's Jan. 27 decision to ban group tours overseas. Cancellations of group tours from China are expected to exceed 400,000 visitors through the end of March, according to the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

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