COVID-19 deals heavy blow to Japan's duty free shops
Web Editor:International Daily
The raging and lingering COVID-19 epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to the duty-free shopping businesses across Japan, with depression dominating multifarious markets since onset of the pandemic.The epidemic-induced recession and slump forced closures and shutdowns as well as volatile businesses with numerous outlets of major department stores and chain stores going bankrupt in succession.Japan's duty-free shops suffered most damages and disruptions during the pandemic. Many shops that originally sold duty-free products had their doors closed, with advertisements for rent posted.For instance, Takashimaya and Isetan Mitsukoshi respectively closed their duty-free shops in Tokyo and Fukuoka, and large duty-free chain Laox also shut down 18 stores in less than two years."Due to the epidemic, duty free shopping has been suspended. The two shops in Kyoto and Akihabara that are still open are selling products mainly for local Japanese customers," said Kyoko Nakajima, head of the public relations department of Laox.For purpose of expanding domestic sales channels, Laox opened a new store in Tokyo that specializes in selling imported Asian food at the end of last month. The products in the store are imported from more than a dozen Asian countries and regions such as China, South Korea, Thailand, and more, with varieties coming to 1,400."When I was visiting China, the seasonings I bought in a local supermarket tasted pretty well. After I returned to Japan, I couldn't find any shop selling them. Today I want to try my luck here," said a shopper.The sales of duty-free products in Japan in November this year reached about 3.5 billion yen (about 31 million U.S. dollars), slumping by nearly 90 percent year on year, according to the latest statistics.Affected by the prolonged epidemic, duty-free shops in Japan are actively seeking transformation, while stepping up efforts to increase cross-border e-commerce sales to overseas markets by making use of live streaming.