Wednesday, 18 January 2017

"Explosive Shopping" Evaporates in Japan

Mainlanders aren't snapping up as many products as they used to in Japan
Hong Kong isn't seeing as many big shoppers from the mainland, and it looks like the same is happening in Japan.

Mainlanders used to clear shelves there of all kind of products, from chocolates to toilet seats, a phenomenon the Japanese called bakugai, or "explosive shopping".

How come we in Hong Kong didn't come up with a term like that?

Like Hong Kong, Japan is seeing steady numbers of tourists from China, but they are more careful about where they spend their money. Last year they were the biggest spenders, splashing out about 227,800 yen per person (US$2,008), but that figure was down 18.9 percent from a year earlier.

Japanese toilet seats used to be a popular item for the Chinese
Visitors from Hong Kong spent even less, plunging 23.6 percent year on year.

"I would not say that the decline in spending by Chinese tourists has been 'dramatic', but it has come down quite a lot," says Martin Schulz, senior economist with the Fujitsu Research Institute.

"There are two primary reasons for this, the first of which is that the yen has become stronger and that has an immediate cost impact on tourists," he said.

"... the products Chinese tourists were buying in the Ginza -- the big suitcases, the heated toilet seats, the brand name cosmetics -- are all available in China now."

He also suggested Chinese travellers who have been to Japan before are going further afield in Japan, to places where there are fewer shopping opportunities, and are actually more interested in services, which Schulz says is good for high-end restaurants and hotels.

Mainlanders don't buy as much cosmetics as they used to
The only way there will be a second wave of bakugai is when the yen weakens again to the point where more Chinese visitors will be enticed to come to the Land of the Rising Sun, but he's not so optimistic.

Service staff are probably relieved at not having to deal with such a deluge of customers, but their bosses might be annoyed they didn't capitalize enough on bakugai.

Ditto could be said for Hong Kong...

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