Amid the ongoing domestic economic slump, Japanese consumers are inclined to save rather than spend money, but even with the trend toward thrift, electronic goods such as DVDs and DVD recorders are proving popular in year-end sales. Industry watchers say that while consumers are becoming less enthusiastic about spending on the traditional year-end gifts, they are willing to buy relatively expensive goods and services for themselves.
"People are becoming much more picky in what they buy," said Shinichi Matsuzawa, executive officer of economic research at Asahi Bank Research Institute Co. "Because wages are generally falling, people are saving up for things they really want. For instance, they may spend less elsewhere, but some young women will buy brand goods such as Louis Vuitton bags." The sales season reached a peak last Sunday but sales at major department store chains such as Mitsukoshi Ltd., Takashimaya Co., and Isetan Co. failed to rise from last year's levels. "People sent fewer gifts this year," said an official at Takashimaya. "Just as companies are being forced to reduce entertainment expenses, households are also changing the way they spend."
On the other hand, consumer interest in next-generation consumer electronics such as DVDs and plasma display panel TVs is strong. "Many people who had been refraining from buying are now buying because of the appearance of less expensive products," said an official at mass-retail electronic appliance store Yamada Denki Co. "There also seems to be interest because digital broadcasting will begin in some parts of the country from next year."
"Materially, people already have just about everything they need in their home. Unless it's something that makes their lives richer or at least gives them the feeling of being rich, people will not be opening their purses," he said. (Kyodo News)
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