Foreign tourists buoy department stores

Foreign tourists buoy department stores
A crowd of shoppers at a Seibu department store in Tokyo.

TOKYO - Japan's latest holiday shopping season saw modest sales growth at many department stores, with an increase in visitors from abroad helping to underpin performance.

In addition, retailers of home electronics and apparel also showed signs of recovery from the sales slump that followed the consumption tax hike last April, thanks in part to larger bonuses handed out by businesses.

According to preliminary December figures released by department store operators, sales rose 1.1 per cent on the year at Isetan Mitsukoshi and climbed 1.5 per cent at Hankyu Hanshin Department Stores. Sogo & Seibu's sales increased slightly. But Takashimaya and Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores both saw a drop of around 1 per cent.

The first days of the new year went relatively well for these operators, with sales rising 1-3 per cent despite snowfall that dented turnout.

Electronics retailer Bic Camera saw sales at its stores climb 10 per cent on the year from Thursday through Saturday. Sales at Yodobashi Camera's flagship store in Tokyo's Akihabara district grew nearly 10 per cent, with shoppers snapping up heaters, 4K televisions, and high-resolution audio equipment.

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