Customers return to department stores in droves for New Year’s sales

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The fukubukuro lucky bag sales area is crowded with people at Matsuya Ginza in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

With freedom of movement no longer restricted due to COVID-19, department stores were as busy as in pre-pandemic years when their annual New Year’s sales started Monday, packed with people shopping for fukubukuro lucky bags and other items.

About 2,500 people lined up in front of Matsuya Ginza before it opened at 10 a.m. in Chuo Ward, Tokyo.

“The high cost of living has made daily necessities and food items more popular than usual,” a Matsuya spokesperson said, adding that some items were sold out in a minute.

About 7,500 people, 15% more than last year, lined up in front of the Isetan Shinjuku store in Tokyo, while Nihombashi Takashimaya Shopping Center in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, saw a 70% increase in the number of customers until noon Monday compared to the previous year.

Tobu Department Store in Ikebukuro in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, opened 20 minutes earlier than scheduled due to a longer-than-expected line of people in front of its doors. A Tobu spokesperson said there were more families visiting the store than last year.

The Seibu Ikebukuro flagship store in Toshima Ward held its New Year’s sale on Sunday, a day earlier than the other stores and said that food products and suitcases sold well. The number of customers increased about 20% from the previous year, and sales were also up about 10%, it said.