Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Japanese retailers reported mostly dismal first-half earnings results, with the industry stuck in a slump as shoppers remain reluctant to open their wallets even as the economy emerges from recession.
With no sales pick-up in sight, stores seem to have no choice but to continue their race to undercut rivals, with prices dropping for everything from cars to clothes to milk.
On the surface it sounds like a shopper’s paradise: Who wouldn’t mind paying less than 1,000 yen ($11) for a pair of jeans?
James Dean smouldered in his, the Marlboro men looked rugged in theirs, and now me and hordes of other Japanese people can feel frugal in ours. Jeans — practical, durable and with just a hint of rebelliousness — are at the centre of a price war in Japan, as struggling retailers look to lure cash-strapped customers back through their doors.
With the country slipping deeper into deflation and its jobless rate rising, shops have for some time been marking down almost everything from bags of cereal, to laundry detergent and bicycles.