Retailers Embark On Sales Drive Amid Reiwa Festivities

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Sales competitions marking the start of the Reiwa era have intensified as department stores and leisure facilities attract young people and other consumers.

Manufacturers have also released various Reiwa-related products, with business operators hoping that the sales drive will contribute to an increase in consumption.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Matsuya Ginza in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, opened to the fanfare of trumpets. The department store offered customers sake in masu wooden cups with the inscription “shuku Reiwa” in kanji characters, as well as anpan buns filled with red bean paste with the kanji for shuku on top. Shuku means celebration in Japanese.

Consumers — especially young people — increasingly go on shopping sprees to mark certain events.

While the number of older customers has risen at department stores, a Matsuya official commented: “We had more young customers than we expected. They seem to be celebrating the change of eras as an event.”

“I noticed a line for celebratory sake, so I lined up. I want to buy some things if there’s a special sale,” a female university student, 21, from Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, said.

Tobu Department Store Co.’s flagship store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district in Toshima Ward is also conducting a commemorative sales campaign. The store is selling items commemorating the first year of Reiwa using the number “1” — such as by limiting sales of particular bento lunches to 11 boxes per day and selling them for ¥1,111.

At Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi department store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, a concert was held to celebrate the new era. Yomiuriland, an amusement park in Inagi, Tokyo, waived its entrance fee on Wednesday and Thursday for visitors with the kanji “rei” or “wa” in their names.

Due to the 10-day holiday, the number of visitors to the facility topped 3,000 in roughly the first two hours of operation on Wednesday, Yomiuriland said.

Expected boost to consumption

National consumer spending trended downward during the Heisei era (1989-2019), largely due to deflation following the collapse of the bubble economy and a decline in corporate performances and other effects resulting from the 2008 financial crisis after investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed.

According to a survey on family budgets conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, average annual spending for households of two or more people peaked at ¥4.02 million in 1993 and dropped to ¥3.44 million in 2018.

Amid these circumstances, many industries expect that the sales campaigns and festive spirit among all generations could enhance the appeal of outlets and products for consumers.

“At major turning points in eras, consumers likely spend more money for commemorative objects. Unlike last time when the era changed [because the emperor passed away,] there is no mood of self-restraint this time. There are expected to be positive effects for consumption,” Akiyoshi Takumori, chief economist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., said.

Meiji Co. released limited quantities of its R-1 yogurt with the label “Shuku, Reiwa Gan-nen” (Celebrating the first year of Reiwa). Coincidentally, the product’s name contains “R,” representing Reiwa, and “1,” representing the first year.

To capture the celebratory mood, Koike-Ya Inc. is selling potato chips with gold sprinkles that are only available at Lawson convenience stores.

Due to concerns over future economic conditions, however, many consumers are cautious about how they spend money. Retailers and manufacturers are studying how to maintain the brisk consumption brought about by the change in eras.

“It’s indispensable to make changes that meet the needs of customers,” an official at KPMG Consulting said.


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