Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Retailers do the limbo

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JAPAN-ECONOMY/For some of Japan’s retailers trying to jumpstart consumer spending, setting prices is like doing the limbo: How low can they go?

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?

Retailers do well by going cheap

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Japan is back in deflation, and price falls look like gathering pace as shoppers’ bargain-hunting leads stores to cut prices further to weather the worst retail slump in decades.

Retailers large and small reported hard falls in quarterly profits last week, and the few bright spots were focused on those drawing in thrifty shoppers with their cheap but well-made goods.

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