Foreign tourists boost sales at Osaka department stores

Japan Economic Newswire |

Department stores in Osaka are enjoying brisk sales as an increase in low-cost carrier flights from Asian cities is helping bring more foreign tourists to their branches.

According to the Japan Department Stores Association, sales at department stores in Osaka grew 7.3 percent on year in June for the sixth consecutive monthly increase. The pace of growth was the strongest by region in the month, while Tokyo saw the first rise in 11 months of 1.1 percent.

The increased LCC flights to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture helped boost the number of foreign passengers at the airport to a record 6.79 million in the first half of 2017, up 12 percent.

At Kintetsu Department Store Co.'s main store, a tax refund counter is constantly crowded with foreign customers.

"Osaka is close to Kyoto and Nara, and there are more tourist spots (in its vicinity) than in Tokyo," said a Chinese woman who purchased cosmetics at the store as souvenirs for her relatives.

"We can also enjoy 'Takoyaki' (snack food) and other local cuisine," she said.

The Kintetsu store says its business tie-ups with Universal Studios Japan in the city and some 90 overseas travel agencies to lure foreign tourists are also paying off. Its tax-free sales in July increased some sixfold from a year earlier.

Abeno Harukas, Japan's tallest building, which houses Kintetsu's store, "is becoming a tourist spot" for foreign visitors, said Toshio Kubo, deputy manager of the store.

Hankyu Department Store's main branch saw a rise of about 70 percent from a year earlier in tax-free sales in July, with jewelry and children's clothing of luxury fashion brands showing particularly strong growth.

"The number of foreign visitors to the Kansai area should continue to rise thanks to economic growth in emerging countries," says Hideyuki Araki, analyst at Resona Research Institute Co.


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