TOKYO: Leading Japanese retailers are seeking to boost customer spending by offering more upmarket items, even as consumer confidence has slipped with people worried about wages and jobs.
Noritoshi Murata, president of Seven & I Holdings which owns the 7-Eleven franchise in Japan, noted that people were "in penny-pinching mode" – consumer confidence fell in August for a third consecutive month – but he was optimistic.
"Japan has a lot of people with money to spend," he said, in remarks reported by Reuters. "If we make things of quality, of value, and at a reasonable price, we can breathe some life into the market."
Seven & I has accordingly developed a range of "Seven Premium" brands, including ice-cream and coffee, which it expects to account for more than 10% of total sales this year, and to rise by 50% over the next two years.
Sales of its "Seven Cafe", for example, have also helped boost sales of sandwiches and snacks.
Fashion retailer Uniqlo, meanwhile, is hoping to turn around a 5% fall in average spend per customer, with the introduction of a range of cashmere sweaters and cardigans.
And Shimamura, a low-priced casual clothing chain, is set to follow suit. "The preference for low-priced clothing isn't really fading," said President Masato Nonaka "but there's a move toward buying slightly better things, so we'll add products that are one or two notches above low-priced goods."
The top of the market, however, is experiencing an upturn, as Nonaka noted that expensive goods, such as luxury watches, were selling well.
And luxury automaker Lamborghini recently said sales in Japan were up 14% in August and there was a 12-month waiting list for its Aventador model. "We are very happy with Japan," Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann, told Autonews, "It's coming back big time."
Further, Forbes reported a recent survey suggesting that luxury spending in Japan would grow by around 11% over the next four years.
Data soured from Reuters, Autonews; additinoal content by Warc staff