Ebisu Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo Photo: RITSUKO ANDO/REUTERS

Death knell sounds for some of Japan's oldest department stores


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> This year, with consumers wary of shopping and tourism decimated amid the pandemic, sales have plunged. Industry sales dropped by a fifth in July from a year earlier and policymakers fear more store closures and bankruptcies are inevitable.

When the message was ‘stay at home’ then that is why stores are closing!

Confusing the population has dire effects!

Thanks to lack of testing, fear mongering and inept leaders then the result is lack of business.....

5 ( +8 / -3 )

In Yamagata, the future of the Onuma department store remains unclear. Although Yamashita's company is keen to keep the store going, creditors could opt to sell to a higher-paying bidder.

Ding, ding, ding!!

Another real state asset for the Chinese.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Department stores were living on borrowed time well before Covid came around. Retail in general was already in trouble. Covid just accelerated it. If the Chinese want to buy commercial real estate, let them. I can't imagine a worse investment at this point in time, with the collapse of retail and people working from home rather than from offices.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

selling items such as 100,000 yen kimonos and posh tableware to maintain their cachet even as consumer tastes have turned towards more informal items.

That store are trying to sell that, not in Tokyo or other major big cities but at far north place? Even in Tokyo less-less people buying those items.

with some government officials and politicians privately saying that the money needs to be funneled toward more viable industries.

Have they spend in anything viable yet?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

How many young people have to accept low wages and long hours?

When do they have the time and money to buy fancy things? It's impossible to splurge when you are barely making ends meet.

Companies are in a race to the bottom with working conditions and wages, then act surprised when people don't have the funds to buy their products....

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Department stores decline started around 30yrs ago slowly got worse over time, most were already in big trouble BEFORE covid..........this was seen coming from miles & miles away

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I don't need to shop in person thanks to Amazon Prime, except to buy clothes and shoes to confirm size. The over service and high prices of Japanese department stores always turned me off.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Maybe Huawei would like to open an infested flagship store here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Department stores were in trouble long before Covid, not just in Japan. People just don’t have the money to spend on luxury or expensive items. The shops that are surviving have been specialising or diversifying. I only use the food hall in department stores, that is the only area that actually has customers.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Everybody gotta go sooner or later.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A company doesn't stay in business for 300 years without adapting quickly and competently.

In those 300 years were massive famines, earthquakes, tsunamis, civil wars, world wars, the closing and opening of Japan, and tinkering of the economy by the government (allowing more foreign goods, limiting foreign goods, monetary reforms, and taxation).

Covid19 is just an excuse, not the cause. If these department stores couldn't adapt quickly and competently, they need new leaders.

Perhaps they should go online? Perhaps they should set up a home delivery system? Perhaps they should change their business model from huge stores with overpriced goods nobody wants to boutiques?

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Perhaps they should go online? Perhaps they should set up a home delivery system? Perhaps they should change their business model from huge stores with overpriced goods nobody wants to boutiques?

The only reason I go into a Japanese department store is to use the clean and nice toilets. I used to naively take a look for shirts or other items but the prices are hidden and if you touch anything an attendant will come over and try to sell it to you leading to an uncomfortable situation when you actually see the price. Literally I was looking for a dress shirt and went to Soga Department Store in Yokohama and found one I like but it was and I am serious 13,000 yen, and I just went to Uniqlo and got in my opinion a comparable item for 2,900 yen.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe Yamashita-san's a bit of a doofus as a businessman and his biz model is way past its use by date, but I share the sentiments he expressed here:

"It's a place people once loved," he said. "It will be a shame if it becomes just another high-rise development."

4 ( +4 / -0 )

These places have been losing money since the collapse of the bubble. Nobody under the age of 60 shops in department stores, and they offer a limited, overpriced selection of things nobody wants or needs. Their only attraction is the food section in the basement after prices have been reduced.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

low wages and crushing hours? It won't be missed

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One honest question-who really cares?

Japanese department stores are relicts of past.

People who can afford buy anything pricey or "quality goods" will buy either at outlet towns or online.

Many cant afford go and spent there hard earned and saved money especially when income getting less every month and living costs not.People have hard times to pay own basic costs like mothgages/rents and bills,to fill fridge with some food and survive from one month to another one...

Its market economy guys-you cant survive?Get closed and bankrupt.

Game over.No one will cry or miss you in real.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Overpriced. That's the reason why fewer people are visiting those places.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Buying goods online is not the only answer, I like to go to the shops try things on etc, I hate buying stuff online as its soul less and if there is a problem where do you take it to? you have to phone up and those dam annoying automated phone lines press 1, press 5 press 3 press 6 then only to find out your in the wrong dept and so it starts again, in a shop you can show them what the problem is, and they rectify it strait away, ( in the UK) also what people don't understand is when they purchase goods, when they arrive and the clothes dont fit or its the wrong colour etc, and return the goods, those goods dont get resold, once its out of its packaging its no good, so it all goes to landfill!!! what a blinking waste!! this is true as a friend of mine use to drive the large lorries and the were escorted to the landfill sites by a rep of the company where the good come from, just to make sure it was ALL delivered and nothing went missing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

For everyday shopping, yes, almost all departo are overpriced, but for gifts for family they are a nice place to go.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nefarious Actors can blame everything on the "Pandemic". No the Misery is from the Lockdowns and the ANTI-Human Measures that come with it. Countries like the Netherlands , Denmark ,Holland and Sweden are doing Greatly because they didnt force their citizens to do anything. They Trusted their Citizens.

And the ones saying yes there were more deaths is a Myth. The death "Curves" are about Zero now.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The Onuma department store in the story in Yamagata has faced a further problem known in Japan as the "straw phenomenon". It refers to the tendency for the Shinkansen to suck life and money out of the provinces toward Tokyo. Rich people in Yamagata once would have gone to Onuma to buy all kinds of finery. Once the Shinkansen was built, the same people only needed to sit on a very comfortable train for three hours each way to buy their luxury goods in Ginza. A 25,000 yen return fare is nothing if you are buying a 500,000 yen handbag or a two million yen kimono. These goods will have much more cred if you bought them in Tokyo.

For department stores in Tokyo etc. the big problem is the hollowing out of the middle class. People don't have the disposable income to pay for lots of staff giving it "o-kyaku sama, o-kyaku sama". They are happy to do self-checkout like at Uniqlo if it saves them money.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I like the basement food floors and usually go to Ginza Mitsukoshi twice a week on my way home for work. After 5 p.m., you can pick up some great food at discounted prices.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That’s not only specific for Japan. If you all over the planet and loudly shout cheapest possible, internet shopping, globalized economy and delivery chains , decreasing numbers of jobs and drastically sinking (relative) incomes, well, then there are of course the corresponding economic echoes, as they are here in form of worldwide department store closures.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You look around and Japan has no 5G company to take advantage of Huawei problems, South Korea will get that deal worth $6 Billion dollars, building for USA.

Japan has no popular apps famous worldwide, Facebook does, Amazon does, Tik Tok does.

The big smart phone companies, Japan is not on that list. Samsung is, Apple is, Huawei is.

Movies, music, TV shows are all coming from South Korea. What is Japan doing?

No Prime Minister can fix this deep rooted problems.... it's been with Japan for far too long, it's becoming the normal now after 3 decades lost since Plaza Accord was signed.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mrs.H.T a great departmental store owner from the south of Japan foreseen this situation 10 years ago

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As a tour guide I often took my customers to the food section of department stores, to show them how nice everything was arranged but also kind of a strange world where 100 grams of beef cost 2000 Yen or a melon 10.000 Yen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was in that department store in Yamagata a number of years ago and was astounded by how many luxury brands they were selling in a city as small as Yamagata. It's like many smaller cities in many parts of the world..the people get buy but they are not exactly the types to flaunt their wealth with Tiffany diamonds and the like.

I am sure a more "down to earth" department store would do ok, but selling high end goods? Maybe in Tokyo, but not in small town Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I do not really understand how these types of stores could operate anyway, even in Tokyo... they're completely anti-efficiency which is contrary to the Japanese ethos...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As for the purpose of having a physical store... this will soon become more important.

Drop shipping has become a scourge of Modern day commerce. Products from China have no "quality" ... including FaceMasks - I personally avoid anything "Made in China" these days

Depending upon the product, being able to see it beforehand, to touch/feel see that it fits is important - rather than the blind acceptance of Cheap is good... though on the other hand, here in Japan, the norm is to think everything should be expensive because this is Japan and we can afford it... rubbish.. get real, new world time!

Kick out the manufacturers that think that way, kick out the Chinese knock offs, focus on efficiency and reliability. and promote that World-wide... the Japanese are good at this when they get their act together, they have an opportunity here... hopefully they wont miss it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was in that department store in Yamagata a number of years ago and was astounded by how many luxury brands they were selling in a city as small as Yamagata. It's like many smaller cities in many parts of the world..the people get buy but they are not exactly the types to flaunt their wealth with Tiffany diamonds and the like.

There are rich people in inaka. The fact that that department store has lasted so long is evidence of it.

Here in Nagano, the department stores in Nagano City and Matsumoto are tired and have limited appeal as a luxury shopping experience. Anyone with money or trying to impress a date will go to the outlet mall at Karuizawa, which is much more swish and has a section full of Aoyama-level high-end brands, or just to Tokyo itself. One middle-y department store in Nagano City, the one opposite the cinema near Zenkoji, has just closed down, but the posher one by the station is still going.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japanese worried about jobs can console themselves with the knowledge that there will be plenty of opportunities for domestic servant work catering to the nouveau riche Chinese, Koreans, Singaporeans, and HKers looking for bolt holes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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