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Mens apparel retailing

09
Mar '07
As reported earlier, retail sales of men's wear in Japan at the end of 2006 were sluggish across all items including coats, suits and jackets.

The preliminary release of the December trade statistics now show that after the recovery in October, chiefly-wool men's suit imports to Japan declined again in November and December. Even with the retail stock levels returning to normal, it is uncertain that the pace of imports will return to a positive level, at least on a volume basis.

The first reason for the uncertain outlook is the previously reported slump in the sales of men's suits at retail, which is making retailers very cautious about placing new orders. The second factor pressing the demand for men's suits in Japan is the shift of longer term business focus by menswear retailers from suits to other apparel. Major Japanese menswear specialty chain stores are shifting their business to:

1) higher-priced suits to compensate for the loss in unit sales (volume)
2) women's and children's apparel, and
3) casual/weekend wear.

As men's suits is the largest single end-use for apparel wool in Japan accounting for almost a quarter of all wool apparel consumed at retail level in terms of wool weight, the uncertainty with men's suits demand will affect the total volume of wool demand in Japan, especially for finer wool.

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