Lack of sunshine cools sales of summer products in Japan


A severe lack of sunshine in the Kanto region is cooling sales of summer products, while the temperatures, unusual for this time of the year, are also generating unseasonal demand for hot drinks and food products.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the number of hours of sunshine in Chiyoda Ward in central Tokyo between June 28 and Monday totaled only 9 percent of that seen in normal years.

Major department store operators have seen sluggish sales for summer products since the end of June.

Sales dropped by over 10 percent year on year in the sale period through July 2 at major flagship stores of Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

At Takashimaya Co., sales of ultraviolet ray parasols and sunglasses fell to about 70 percent compared to the same time period a year before..

“Sales of regular summer products for ochugen (a Japanese midyear gift-giving tradition) including beer and somen noodles dropped noticeably,” a department store official said.

Outside leisure facilities also suffered.

At amusement park Yomiuri Land in the city of Inagi, a suburb of Tokyo, the number of pool visitors this season stood at some 5,000 as of Monday — down by 90 percent.

Amusement park Toshimaen in Nerima Ward in the capital saw only 105 pool visitors on Sunday, down sharply from the 13,477 seen on a Sunday in mid-July last year.

“We can’t help but pin hopes (for a rise in visitors on the period) after the end of the rainy season,” a Toshimaen official said.

The lack of sunshine is also affecting vegetable prices.

At the Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, prices of cucumbers and eggplants were some 50 percent higher as of Tuesday than in normal years.

“There are no factors pushing prices down unless the weather recovers,” an official at the agriculture ministry said.

In contrast to the sluggish sales of ice cream and cool drinks, hot drinks and food are selling well.

Sales of hot coffee doubled from a year before at FamilyMart Co. convenience stores, while sales of hot udon and soba noodles tripled at Seven-Eleven Japan Co. convenience stores.

The rainy season is expected to end later this month in Kanto and the Tokai central region. In the meantime, it seems many Japanese business people are hoping for a recovery in sales figures for summer products.



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