Chilly weather lures back shoppers for winter goods

Jiji Press
Loft Co.’s Mofua Kiru Mofu clothing line is seen at a Loft store in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — As Japan has been hit by a cold wave in earnest recently, seasonal items are flying off the shelves.

Among products catching the eyes of consumers this winter are warm at-home clothes and kerosene heaters amid growing consciousness about energy-saving reflecting a surge in electricity prices.

At household goods retailer Loft Co.’s flagship outlet in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, socks named Marude Kotatsu, which the company says warm the wearer’s body by stimulating “tsubo” pressure points in the ankles, have already sold out. Sales have been above year-before levels for Loft’s Mofua Kiru Mofu at-home clothes.

These items “sell well every time we have news about an electricity rate hike,” a Loft official said.

Sales of kerosene heaters in the first 18 days of December shot up about 40% year on year at large electronics retailer Bic Camera Inc. Sales of energy-saving compact electric heaters designed to warm the legs are also rising by roughly 30%, a Bic Camera official said.

At outlets of hardware store operator DCM Co., film for windows to keep out chilly air and tape to seal gaps around windows are enjoying brisk sales.

Foods for winter are also in high demand. Weekly sales of Ebara Foods Industry Inc.’s soup products for “nabe” hot pot dishes, which are easy to cook and help save energy, have increased year on year for three weeks in a row.

Sauces from Kikkoman Corp. for shabu shabu, a type of hot pot, are drawing strong consumer attention, while Kirin Beverage Co.’s hot Namacha Japanese tea products are seeing strong sales.

At department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd.’s main Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi store in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, sales of items such as down jackets are rising more than 20%. “People who stayed at home and refrained from shopping last winter to avoid infection with the novel coronavirus are buying these goods this year,” a company official said.

Turtleneck sweaters are among popular items at Uniqlo casual wear shops of Fast Retailing Co.

The high popularity of these warm clothes suggests that many people enjoy going out despite chilly weather because no movement restrictions related to COVID-19 are in place this winter, industry sources said.