Department stores are rejuvenating their customer base for what they call “Gaisho” services for the wealthy. At the Isetan Shinjuku main store, the amount of purchases by Gaisho customers 44 years old and younger expanded fivefold before the Covid-19 disaster. At Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Store, 60% of Gaisho members via the newly established online counter were 44 years old or younger.
As the special demand from foreign visitors to Japan disappears, department stores are focusing on expanding their remaining strength, the wealthy customer base.
Gsisho is a service in which dedicated sales staff go to customers’ homes to meet their needs. At Isetan Mitsukoshi, Gaisho accounts for 20% of the total sales of its two flagship stores. Although the companies do not disclose their criteria for Gaisho customers, it appears that they solicit customers based on the amount of their purchases and assets. Among the younger group, it is said, “many are entrepreneurs.”
During the recovery phase from the Covid-19 disaster, the value of stocks and other assets rose. Travel, on the other hand, has been restricted, and the inflated spending power of the wealthy has turned to expensive items such as watches and jewelry.
According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), global household assets, taking debt into account, increased by more than 40% from 2016 to 2021. Japan’s increased by only a little over 10% over the same period. Japan, where annual income levels have remained flat for 30 years, suggests that the spending power of the middle class has not grown.
However, the situation is different for the wealthy. According to the French consulting firm Cap Gemini, the number of HNWIs in Japan with assets of $1 million or more stood at 3.65 million as of 2009, ranking second in the world after the United States (7.46 million) and more than twice as many as the third place.