Spread of new flu affecting consumer spending in Japan
Saturday 23rd May, 04:09 PM JST
The spread of new-influenza infection in Japan has had inclement effects on consumer spending, with cancellations of trips and accommodation reservations increasing in the Kansai region where most of the infected patients live.
About 360,000 people have canceled reservations at Japanese-style inns in the western Japanese region including Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe as of Wednesday
, industry officials said.
Japan’s largest travel agency JTB Corp said many people have canceled tours to the Kansai region, while some have made inquiries as to whether trips to the area are safe. Discount airliner Jetstar Airways linking Japan’s Kansai and Narita international airports with Australia has decided to cancel 31 round-trip flights from next Monday through the end of June due to increasing cancellations of school excursions from Japan using its flights.
Meanwhile, retailers continue operating shops with employees wearing face masks in areas where patients infected with the new flu have been confirmed.
There have been more notable declines in the number of shoppers at department stores, compared with supermarket chain stores selling daily necessities. A department store official said even food sales has been falling.
In contrast, more people in the Kansai region are shopping through ‘‘Net supermarkets’’ in which they place orders on the Internet for delivery. Such orders at eight Ito-Yokado Co outlets in the area have increased two to three times compared with before.
Items used for prevention of the new-flu infection are selling well, with sales of Lion Corp’s hand soaps doubling since late April from a year earlier.
A senior official of a nonlife insurance company said the new flu will not inflict much damage on Japan’s economy if its infection remains mild in terms of virulence.
Takahide Kiuchi of the Financial & Economic Research Center of Nomura Securities Co. said there would be a risk of greater effects on the real economy if authorities overreact to call on companies to cut down on meetings and business operations.