Japan remains the world’s third-largest fashion apparel importer after the EU and the US. As one of the leading fashion markets in the world, Japan is also a trendsetter for other countries in Asia. Although spending on clothing has decreased in recent years, consumers do still want to buy quality products, as long as they are offered at good prices. Although high-end European fashion is extremely popular in Japan, Japanese consumer buying habits differ significantly to those of consumers in Europe, and it is important to be aware of how conceptions of what is fashionable or trendy differ in Japan.
In the last ten years, the Japanese retail market has experienced the rapid establishment of new European retailers, both in fast fashion and home interiors. Their success clearly benefits Japanese consumers by offering them greater choice, often better prices and, frequently, completely new products previously not available on the market. The success of European retailers in Japan also benefits the Japanese economy at large – it creates considerable employment and helps to revitalise many cities that were previously in decline. Japanese retailers (for example Uniqlo and Nitori) and wholesalers gain from the presence of European competition as it provides incentives to further strengthen their global competitive edge.
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