According to the “Nihon Keizai Shimbun” news on July 6, Uniqlo will close its flagship store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, Japan, on August 1.
The store opened in October 2010 and is Uniqlo’s first “global flagship store” in Japan. After closing, it will be integrated into the brand store of Uniqlo’s sister brand GU operating nearby.
The decrease in inbound tourists caused by the spread of the epidemic is the main reason for closing the store. As the lease agreement is about to expire, Uniqlo has made the decision to withdraw the store.
As a prosperous shopping district in Osaka, Shinsaibashi was once one of the iconic places for shopping, including Chinese tourists. The significance of setting up a flagship store here is self-evident. In addition to increasing sales, it is also conducive to exporting the brand’s own value to tourists from various countries.
Uniqlo stated in 2014 that the number of foreign tourists at Kansai Airport was increasing sharply, and the development of commercial facilities was also actively developing. In this context, Uniqlo believes that “there are hidden business opportunities”, and in addition to the Shinsaibashi flagship store, it has added a new flagship store in the Osaka business district.
It is not just stores in popular business districts in Osaka that have been hit by the epidemic. According to Caijing.com, as of the end of June, a total of 5 Uniqlo stores in the Japanese market have been temporarily closed and 149 stores have shortened their business hours. This caused Uniqlo’s Japanese market sales in June to fall by 17.3% year-on-year; same-store comparable sales fell by 19.2%. However, the company’s same-store sales in June increased compared with the same period in 2019, driven by sales of Ultra Stretch Active series, homewear and other products.
Due to difficulties encountered in the local market and the epidemic in China has basically subsided, Japan has turned more attention to the Chinese market.
At the end of August 2020, the number of UNIQLO stores in mainland China reached 767, surpassing the 764 directly operated stores in Japan for the first time; at the end of September 2020, the number of UNIQLO stores in mainland China increased to 782.
In March this year, Wu Pinhui, global senior vice president of Fast Retailing Group and chief marketing officer (CMO) of UNIQLO Greater China, said that UNIQLO China will maintain a store opening rate of 80 to 100 stores per year in the future, and will also Stores are sinking to third- and fourth-tier cities.
Will a full bet on China be a life-saving straw for Uniqlo? Some answers seem to be found from Tmall’s sales performance in the first three days of “6.18”: In the most important women’s clothing category, Uniqlo dropped to fourth place, followed by fashion brand collection stores ITIB, Urban Revivo and Evely.
Uniqlo has always had an absolute advantage in the past. From 2015 to 2020, Uniqlo has continuously ranked first in women’s clothing sales in Tmall’s “Double 11” promotion.
For Uniqlo, continuing to output brand concepts and improving shopping experience may be more important than simply impacting sales. But as domestic brands gradually catch up, Uniqlo may not be able to continue to “win”. </p