Now in NYC, 2nd Street is banking big on old becoming new again

The Year of the Rabbit kicked off with the customary clearance sales, and while Japanese shoppers are returning to department stores in pre-pandemic numbers, the lack of inbound customers continues to bite — although this means different things for different stores.

Seibu’s flagship department store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district is claiming a 50% increase in foot traffic compared to 2022’s year-opening clearance sales. Don’t get too excited; that doesn’t mean a return to 2019 sales figures. Rather, customers are at least venturing into the store.

Even with restrictions on international travelers largely lifted since October 2022 (with the crucial exception of mainland China, where restrictions were only lifted last month), a boost in tax-free shopping sales was conspicuously absent for January, and with Seibu pushing kimono-related events and traditional cultural experiences squarely targeted at domestic shoppers, it’s arguable that they weren’t expecting to see all that many foreign shoppers. That’s a shame, as these kinds of cultural events resonate with international shoppers looking to experience Japan’s unique New Year sales — they just have to feel invited.

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