Stores hope ‘lucky bags’ attract amid the slump

Kyodo News

Major department stores are promoting “lucky bags” to get customers to loosen their purse strings at the start of the year.

“Practical things will likely gain popularity,” said an official at Daimaru Inc., which is readying lucky bags with goods geared to catchphrases including “arafour,” referring to women of around 40, and “konkatsu,” or activities having to do with getting married.

The Seibu store in the Ikebukuro district in Tokyo will put on sale a lucky bag containing five shirts for ¥5,000. It is also preparing ties and socks.

“We hope these things will be helpful to our customers,” a Seibu official said.

To coincide with the Year of the Ox in 2009, Takashimaya Co. will have a bag featuring Miyazaki beef, along with vegetables and fruit from the prefecture, each month for six months to let consumers make gourmet selections while also cutting back on spending.

The Miyazaki beef will come to 6 kg over six months and is worth ¥100,000. The sale price is ¥11,290 — a number able to be pronounced as a play on words meaning “good meat” in Japanese.

The Daimaru store in Osaka’s Umeda district is taking reservations for a lucky bag filled with popular brand clothing priced at one-fourth to one-fifth the usual cost. It is part of a strategy to help customers avoid long lines on New Year’s Day.

Many department stores are targeting single women in the arafour generation, who are considered to have a lot of spending money.

The Matsuya Co. store in Ginza, Tokyo, has produced a “marriage activity support lucky bag” of women’s “make-or-break clothing” selected by male employees who have frequently attended mixers. The bag targets “arasa,” or women around age 30. The Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, will prepare a ¥2,009 konkatsu lucky bag, as well as a package featuring fashion and makeup guidance from professionals, and a talk by the author of the best-seller “The Era of Konkatsu.”

The Takashimaya in Kyoto as well as Hankyu and Hanshin department stores are coming up with lucky bags for couples holding wedding ceremonies and receptions.

“Next year is rich in lucky bags offering customers the chance to experience events rather than having products,” a Mitsukoshi official said.

Seibu and Sogo Co., under the wing of Millennium Retailing Inc., have prepared a ¥200,000 package for men to receive lessons from former Olympic swimmer Masami Tanaka, and for women to receive guidance from Yoshio Koide, who coached Naoko Takahashi, the marathon gold medalist in 2000.

Tokyu is preparing an Okinawa mangrove tour for ¥450,000 for two, and the Mitsukoshi branch in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, is offering a ¥20.09 million Antarctic luxury tour for two.