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Businesses seek sales opportunities as Premium Friday campaign nears

The Yomiuri Shimbun

As part of an event to publicize Premium Friday, a makeup artist applies eyeliner to a woman in a noontime demonstration held in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 27.

The Yomiuri Shimbun Retailers, restaurants and other businesses are looking to the Premium Friday campaign (see below) — which urges companies to let their employees off early on the last Friday of each month — for sales opportunities when the practice begins on Feb. 24.

Companies are promoting events and developing related products, hoping the campaign will do something to boost the nation’s sluggish personal consumption.

Suntory Beer Ltd. on Jan. 27 offered its The Premium Malt’s beer to guests invited to a restaurant in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo for a Premium Friday publicity event.

The industry has been unable to prevent consumers from drifting away from beer, so getting more people into restaurants and other establishments represents a “golden sales opportunity,” according to Naoya Baba, general manager of Suntory’s Premium Beer Marketing Department.

Major cosmetics manufacturer Kose Corp. also held an event on Jan. 27, this one promoting makeup techniques using foundation products from its Esprique brand.

The event was targeted at women who want to touch up their makeup before Friday dates or dinner parties.

Major department stores have been hit particularly hard by sluggish consumption.

Members of the Japan Department Stores Association are planning a joint campaign called “Shumatsu Megura Night,” at which customers can try special menu items and other products on department store restaurant floors.

The travel industry is also taking part, with several companies offering “2½-day holiday” tours that go from Friday afternoon to Sunday.

JTB Corp. offers packages that allow travelers to leave Tokyo and other cities after work on Friday and still enjoy dinner at their destination.

Nippon Travel Agency Co. offers a three-day, two-night trip to Okinawa that leaves Friday evening and includes the use of a rental car.

The government is supporting Premium Friday as part of its effort to reform the nation’s working styles.

However, “the key point will be how companies make progress in improving the working environment,” said Yusuke Miyairi, an economist at Nomura Securities Co.

■ Premium Friday

A public-private initiative to boost consumption by starting weekends at 3 p.m. on the last Friday each month, to debut on Feb. 24. A council with representatives from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry; Keidanren (Japan Business Federation); the retail industry and others is calling on companies to participate. As of late last month, the council has a logo that 908 companies and organizations have requested to use.Speech

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