Duty-Free Sales Plummeting in Japan amid Viral Outbreak

Economy Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 21 (Jiji Press)--Sales of duty-free items at department stores in Japan have been plummeting this month, reflecting a sharp drop in the number of customers from China in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak that originated in the nation, it was learned Friday.

Unofficial data from the Japan Department Stores Association show that sales of such items at about 10 pct of all department stores in Japan between Feb. 1 and Monday were down about 70 pct from the same period of last year, officials of the industry group said.

The association's official department store sales data for the whole of February are set to be announced next month. Chinese account for the largest share of all foreign visitors to Japan. Duty-free sales serve as a key indicator of foreign visitors' consumption in Japan.

Overall February department store sales also fell as of Monday, by some 15 pct, the officials said. "We don't have much hope" for sales for the rest of this month, a public relations official said.

The association announced Friday that sales at all department stores in January fell 3.1 pct from a year before on a same-store basis, down for the fourth consecutive month. The downtrend started last October, when Japan's consumption tax was raised to 10 pct from 8 pct.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press