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Chinese shoppers flock to Japan to take advantage of weak yen

TOKYO, Japan – Chinese shoppers are coming en masse to Japan to take advantage of the weak yen, and that should translate into a bit of a bottomline boost for Japanese retailers.

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TOKYO, Japan – Chinese shoppers are coming en masse to Japan to take advantage of the weak yen, and that should translate into a bit of a bottomline boost for Japanese retailers.

There is good reason why iconic Japanese watchmaker Seiko has picked Chinese American actor and singer Wang Leehom to sell its brand. “I have been collaborating with Seiko worldwide, in advertisements and at events,” he said.

“At the premium watch boutique, there were Chinese people waving to him from the bus,” said Shinji Hattori, president and CEO of Seiko Watch. “It shows how extremely popular he is. His influence is great.”

That is exactly what Seiko wants – attracting the attention of Chinese buyers. The watches do not come cheap with some costing US$6,000, while the most expensive costs over US$250,000.

Chinese shoppers have been aggressively buying luxury items. According to the ministry responsible for tourism, Chinese visitors pay an average of ¥100,000 (US$800) for watches – more than any other nationality.

In the first six months of the year, the number of tourists from mainland China has doubled to more than two million.

One retailer at a popular mall says sales have improved 30 per cent compared to last year for everything from cosmetics to expensive booze.

“Seventy per cent of our sales among foreign customer are Chinese,” said Nobuhiro Hattori, manager of the marketing and sales planning section at Matsuya. “They are our very important customers.”

The weaker yen is proving to be a boost for retailers in Japan, with Chinese tourists buying everything from shoes to diamond wedding rings.

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