Discount Rules in Land of the Sinking Sum; Reed Stevenson Goes Early-Morning Shopping in Tokyo
Stevenson, Reed, The Birmingham Post (England)
From round-the-clock deep discounts to convenience -tore banking, Japan's retailers are reaching for ways to attract increasingly tough customers.
At 1am bartender Tetsuya Iizuka has just finished shopping at a garishly-lit yellow-painted discount store for groceries. There is also an electric toothbrush in his bag.
'I come here because it's not so expensive and there are no other stores open at this time,' said Iizuka, aged 25, outside the store. 'Where else can I buy an electric toothbrush at night?'
At one time, shopping after midnight in Japan meant higher prices and much less from which to choose.
But now there are discount shops open until dawn, shops with everything priced at 100 yen - almost 57p - and convenience stores bringing the stiff-collared banking business into local neighbourhoods.
Many of these strategies are nothing new for consumers in a thriving economy such as the United States. Indeed some ideas, like the 100-yen shop, are not even new to Japan.
But what the new stores reflect is growing demand for lower prices and convenience, rather than service at any price.
In recession-weary Japan, service now equals lower prices.
One enterprising company has targeted the night owls and seedier consumers in Tokyo by keeping its doors open until dawn.
With cars lined up outside its bright yellow stores, Don Quijote does brisk business by selling everything from toilet paper, shoes, and rice crackers to discounted but genuine Rolex watches and imported Italian bags. …