China’s voracious consumers have helped to create a new buzzword in Japan, with the term “bakugai” – which translates as “explosive buying” – selected as one of top additions to the Japanese language this year.
Fifty candidates were short-listed by publishing company Jiyu Kokumin Sha for the most popular word of 2015, ranging from new terms from pop culture, anime, politics and sport.
That list was whittled down to two winners, “bakugai” and the new baseball term “triple three,” to describe a .300 batting average with 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs achieved by two players this season.
The baseball phrase will have passed many Japanese by, but the influx of Chinese tourists are unmissable. And their spending sprees are fast becoming legendary among Japanese retailers.
During the Golden Week holidays in early October, around 400,000 tourists from mainland China descended on Japanese destinations, spending an estimated ¥100 billion (HK$6.3 billion) in the space of seven days.
Encouraged by the weaker yen and easier visa requirements, Chinese tourists accounted for fully 27.5 per cent of the total consumption by overseas visitors in 2014, according to the Japanese government’s white paper on tourism. And that percentage is likely to increase when the figures for 2015 are released.
And once they are here, they have a clear of idea what they want to spend their yen on.
According to the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, the favorite digital publication of China’s Elite, the most affluent of Chinese travelers plan to spend between US$55,000 and US$340,000 per year in shopping overseas.
A study by the Japan National Tourist Agency indicated that 63 per cent of Chinese visitors purchased cosmetics and perfume, 55 per cent snapped up food, spirits and cigarettes and 52 per cent bought over-the-counter medicines and toiletries.
Perhaps surprisingly, only 37 per cent of Chinese bought electrical appliances – rice cookers and Japan’s famous high-tech toilet seats remain favourites – although they did buy in bulk. On average, a foreign tourist will spend ¥65,000 (HK$4,093) on appliances, but the Chinese splash out an average of ¥88,000 (HK$5,541).
Chinese tourists’ reputation for “explosive” bouts of buying have been played up in Japan’s tabloid press, which have played up reports of stores having their shelves stripped bare and tourists coming to blows over the last remaining items.
In one incident reported, two families became embroiled in a fight in a Kobe department store in August over the last box of disposable nappies.
Japan has become the most popular destination for Chinese tourists this year, with 2.75 million Chinese arriving in the January-to-July period, up from 1.29 million in the same period in the previous year.
Even the devaluation of the yuan in the late summer failed to appreciably slow down arrivals.
To meet growing demand and take advantage of an agreement reached in May between Beijing and Tokyo to permit additional flights, All Nippon Airways is ramping up its services to China and launched a new route from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to Guangzhou on October 25. At the same time, it doubled its present single daily flights from Haneda to both Beijing and Shanghai.
Similarly, the Laox chain of electronics and duty-free stores opened a new store in Tokyo in June specifically catering to visitors from China and further afield.
The new ¥2 billion (HK$131 million) store, in the Shinjuku district, stocks around 50,000 items, including home appliances, watches, cosmetics and household goods, all spread out over 2,100 square metres of floor space.
Source: South China Morning Post. All rights reserved.