Businesses having a merry time this Christmas season

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A toy personal computer from Sega Toys Co.

With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, holiday shoppers are getting into a spending mood.

Compared with this time last year, coronavirus infections are down and hopes among businesses for an economic recovery are up and rising. Some industries, however, are having to deal with supply problems stemming from the global shortage in semiconductor chips.

“The Christmas mood is back,” said a Takashimaya Co. official on the return of shoppers to the department store floors.

To add to the atmosphere, Takashimaya plans to again set up a merry-go-round, which was canceled last year, in the entrance of its flagship outlet in Tokyo’s Nihombashi district on Saturday.

At the Matsuya department store in Tokyo’s Ginza district, accessories and expensive coats are among the hot-sellers, and the Isetan department store in Shinjuku was so overwhelmed with pre-orders for Christmas cakes for Dec. 24 and 25 that it stopped accepting them Monday. Large Christmas cakes priced at more than ¥10,000 are also selling well, the company said.

According to a forecast by research firm Intage Inc., the scale of the Christmas-related market will increase by 28% from the previous year to about ¥2.08 trillion — almost recovering to pre-pandemic levels.

An online survey conducted on Dec. 1 and 2 found that the total average spending on Christmas-related items was ¥21,331, up about ¥4,700 from the previous year.

In terms of gifts for children, “personal computer-style toys” are attracting attention. The toys are believed to have drawn interest from children who increasingly see family members’ using PCs while working at home.

Such toys have also found favor with education-minded parents and guardians since the implementation of programming education as a compulsory subject in elementary schools from fiscal 2020.

One product by Sega Toys Co. has a play function that allows children to display their own face on the screen via a built-in camera. The toy has no communication function, but children can enjoy pretending they are holding an online conference.

Another model produced by Tomy Co. allows users to learn the basics of programming with the characters of the popular video game Pokemon.

Meanwhile, makers of game consoles — a standard Christmas gift — are being pinched by the global shortage of semiconductors. Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC’s PlayStation 5 is still in short supply a year after its release, while Nintendo Co. has also lowered its sales forecasts for its Nintendo Switch.