(Adds reason for sales rise, department store sales)
TOKYO, Sept 2 Fast Retailing Co said
same-store sales at its flagship Uniqlo clothing stores in Japan
edged above target in the business year ended in August as cool
weather late last month spurred an early start to buying of
warmer clothing for autumn.
Spending per customer rose a record 15.1 percent in August
at Japanese Uniqlo stores open at least a year, the company said
on Tuesday. That helped boost overall same-store sales for the
month by 3.8 percent, despite a nearly 10 percent drop in
Average temperatures in eastern Japan were about 3 degrees
Celsius below typical levels at the end of August this year,
meteorological agency data showed. For the company's financial
year to end-August, Uniqlo same-store sales rose 1.9 percent,
exceeding the full-year target of 1.6 percent growth.
Autumn-winter items are typically more expensive than summer
clothing, and Uniqlo is also implementing price increases of
about 5 percent with this year's autumn-winter collections. The
price hike was considered a sign of rising confidence that
Japan's policies to stimulate the economy were boosting consumer
sentiment and helping to overcome a decade and a half of
Uniqlo's sharp rise in spending per customer was in marked
contrast to the 2012/13 business year, when customer numbers
rose but spending suffered as it kept prices low. Fast Retailing
will release full earnings results for the 2013/14 financial
year on Oct. 9.
Japan's four leading department store operators also
received a boost from the unseasonably cool weather, with August
bringing an across-the-board sales increase at all four for the
first time since a sales tax increase on April 1.
Industry executives remained uncertain, however, whether the
early buying of autumn clothing would bring a sustained boost,
or simply eat into sales later in the season.
"We're not pessimistic about consumption, but we're also not
optimistic about this favourable trend continuing," said a
representative from J.Front Retailing Co Ltd, operator
of the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores.
(Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu; Writing by Edmund Klamann;
Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)