New Year's department store sales plunge

Sales at major department stores in Japan during New Year's fell sharply as the coronavirus pandemic intensified. Managers downsized their sales campaigns, including "lucky bag" offerings, during the seasonal shopping period.

J. Front Retailing, the operator of Daimaru and Matsuzakaya, reported a decline of nearly 50 percent from the same time a year earlier. Takashimaya saw a similar drop. The period ran until Sunday.

Two Tokyo stores of the Isetan-Mitsukoshi chain and two of Sogo and Seibu report decreases in sales of almost 40 percent.

The sector was also struggling in the lead-up to the holiday.

J. Front Retailing reports a drop of nearly 20 percent for December.

Hankyu Hanshin was down over 16 percent, and Isetan -Mitsukoshi about 11 percent.

Bright spots during the year-end shopping season included Christmas cakes, traditional New Year's food and luxury-brand items. Even so, the resurgence of the coronavirus kept many customers away.