Weak yen attracts strong spenders

By David Hayes |

Strong spending by Chinese visitors and a resurgence by Japanese travellers is driving sales at Tokyo International Air Terminal (TIAT).


Duty free sales are expected to grow by 10% in the current financial year ending March 31, 2015 (FY2014) as the number of daily long-haul flight departure slots rises in the summer international flight timetable.


Spending by Chinese passengers in particular has been driven by a weaker yen and departing Japanese passengers are also buying strongly again as more competitive prices prove increasingly attractive at Japan’s airport duty free shops.


“We had an increase of 20% in total generic duty free sales (P&C and L&T) in financial year ending March 31, 2014, and our boutiques doubled their sales. Business is fantastic,” said Hideki Hayashi, Vice President for Sales and Marketing at Tokyo International Air Terminal Corporation (pictured below).



Speaking exclusively to TRBusiness, he said: “Cosmetics sales had a 25% increase and fragrances 19%. Liquor sales increased 20% and Japanese confectionery had over a 20% increase. Tobacco sales, however, increased only 2%.”

“There is a big increase in Japanese and Chinese passenger spending,” Hayashi said. “Japanese passengers now understand that Japanese duty free prices are good; also, there are more mainland Chinese passengers.”

According to official figures, almost 8 million arriving and departing international passengers used TIAT in FY2013.


“It was a 2% increase, not so big,” Hayashi commented. “Chinese, Taiwanese and Thai passenger numbers increased a lot last year. South Korean passenger numbers decreased because of the won and the Japan/South Korea diplomatic situation.


“FY2013 was a good year for TIAT as we had a lot of passengers, especially business travelers. Also, the foreign exchange situation helped us – the yen is weak so our duty free prices are competitive compared to overseas.”



Japanese travellers are the main customers using TIAT’s duty free shops, boutiques and other outlets. Luxury brand boutiques popular with Japanese travellers include Chanel, Cartier and Hermès.


Perfume and cosmetics are popular items along with tobacco products and Japanese merchandise which many businessmen buy as gifts for overseas business associates.


Japanese customers account for 50% of purchases made in TIAT’s luxury brand boutiques, according to Hayashi. Chinese customers are the second highest spending group in the terminal’s luxury boutiques followed by South Korean and Taiwanese travellers.

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