Japan's 'cherry blossom' season reels in Chinese shoppers

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Japan's 'cherry blossom' season reels in Chinese shoppers

Related tags Tourism

As shopping trips to Japan continue to boom, Chinese people who received visas in March are expected to travel to shop and experience the 'cherry blossom season' in April.

According to the Japanese Consulate, the number of visas issued in March is expected to hit a single-month record of 146,000, about double that of a year before.

With the upcoming holiday period in China coinciding with Japan’s cherry blossom season, travel bookings have more than doubled from the previous year, the Japannews.com reports.

"Thanks to the yen’s drop against the yuan as well as an expansion of the tax-free goods list, Chinese visitors are likely to find many good deals when shopping in Japan,​" says the publication.

Currently, tourist spending is estimated to contribute about 1% to Japan's department stores' sales. Spending by international visitors increased in 2014, with tourists reportedly spending 2.03 trillion yen on souvenirs ranging from premium goods to cosmetics.

Japan's tourism trade to reach 3.8 trillion yen by 2020

According to the latest figures from Japan’s Tourism Agency; the average amount spent on cosmetics and pharmaceuticals was ¥20,270 (USD $205.52). Visitors from China were the highest spenders, with 68.4% purchasing and an average spending of ¥34,521 (USD $350.01).

The Agency also revealed that 38.5% of tourists who visited Japan bought cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, making them the third most commonly bought item after food and confectionery.

Taiwan and Thailand tourists also featured prominently in purchasers of cosmetics, with 62.8% and 42.3% purchasing and average spending being ¥16,406 and ¥15,921 respectively.

Retailers need to be more 'tourist friendly' to reap real benefits

Revenue from Japan's inbound tourism trade is expected to reach about 3.8 trillion yen in 2020, as not only per capita expense but also the number of travelers is projected to grow.

Analysts say that to tap into potential buying power, stores in Japan need to be more tourist-friendly.

"There are about one million retailers in Japan, but at last count just 9,300 stores, or less than 1%, were tax-free."

Regional publication, asia.nikkei.com reports Kenichi Niitsu, senior managing director of Japan Shopping Tourism Organization to be concerned that most domestic retailers are not ready to welcome foreign shoppers.

"Only a few of them can serve foreign customers in English​," it quoted Niitsu as saying.  

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