Beauty tourism 'a bright spot' in Japan's gloomy economic prospects

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Japan, Tourism

Although a weakening yen and depleting tourism levels are casting a darkening shadow on the Japanese economy, beauty has been singled out as one industry which may continue to drive sales.

Tourism rates are currently down in the country after three consecutive years of record highs up to 2015, and, according to the Japan Department Stores Association, for the past three months, sales of duty-free goods per head have dipped below those of the year before.

Consumer demand during the high period up to the end of 2015 had been typically directed towards luxury goods, but according to the Japan Times​, tourists are now keen to pick up ‘every day goods’, with the national newspaper singling out cosmetics in particular.

The Japan Department Stores Association confirms this renewed interest in mid-tier brands, stating that of the 194.3 billion yuan sales seen across 71 stores, cosmetics was a key sales driver.

Weak against the yen

The efforts follow reports earlier this month that the weakening yuan against the yen is likely to slow Chinese tourist’s spending in the country.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, tourism from China reached an all-time high last August, with nearly 600,000 visitors to Japan, but that figure has now slipped month-on-month to a reported low of 363,000 in November.

According to the Asian Review​, Kao and Shiseido, two major Japanese beauty brands which are traditionally popular with Chinese tourists, have both seen sales drop 8% since the end of December.

Optimism

Despite the currently gloomy climate, commentators are voicing confidence in an upcoming turn in fortunes for the Japanese economy when it comes to tourism.

Koya Miyamae, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc., told the Japan Times that the weaker yuan and other China-related worries will “only have a limited effect​” on Chinese tourists’ spending in Japan, as this consumer group has plenty of money to spend. 

Tourism levels in Japan will begin to pick up as the summer approaches, Miyamae reportedly predicted. Beauty is set to continue to be a favourite sector for these consumers when they return.

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