With Japan’s ageing population, retailers are faced with the dilemma of fewer consumers buying their product. To address this concern, many shopping complexes are eyeing to maximize foreign buyers to help boost their businesses and attract them with tax-free shopping.
Aside from the shrinking population of the nation, a recent tax hike has also curtailed the spending of many locals. As such, some businesses have suffered. But with Japan marketing itself as a new tourist destination in Asia, retail companies are hoping that with the influx of tourists also comes the influx of sales. Foreigners can buy certain Japanese products and not be charged for the tax. The government hopes to increase the list of merchandise and products which can be bought free, including some food products and cosmetics. They hope that this would help lure more foreigners to spend money on shopping. Department stores, for their part, are revamping their services like improving the tourists‘ shopping and customer service experience, getting more tax refund counters and additional foreign exchange currency stations.
In 2013, foreigners who visited Japan surpassed the 10 million mark, increasing the amount of money they spent on the country by 30% from the previous year. The government is looking into implementing other programs to attract more foreigners to the country in the run-up for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Last year, 10.36 million foreign tourists went to Japan, spending ¥ 1,416.70 billion ($13.7 billion) in the country, said the Japan Tourism Agency. Tapping into foreign tourists is expected to rake in more than ¥ 3 trillion for the economy by 2020. That number may be difficult to achieve if you just rely on local consumption due to the high number of elderly in the nation and lesser consumers. Stores for their part are increasing the number of products and variety they offer to attract more customers while shopping complexes have resorted to adding more tax-free outlet shops for the tourists’ enjoyment.
[via Nikkei Asian Review]