The Yomiuri ShimbunSales competition for popular summer items continues to intensify as heat waves batter Japan — sales for beer, other beverages, ice cream and shaved ice are increasing, with some manufacturers stepping up production.
Department stores and other outlets are offering special deals on days when temperatures exceed 35 C, in a bid to attract more customers. Companies have high hopes that the campaigns will spur consumption.
Kirin Co. will increase production of beer and happoshu, a low-malt beer-like beverage, in August by 5.6 percent compared to last year. Asahi Soft Drinks Co. also plans on increasing production of the body-cooling beverage Karada Calpis by 30 percent compared to their initial plan.
Sales of Parm, Morinaga Milk Industry Co.’s popular ice cream brand sold at convenience stores and supermarkets, increased 15 percent over July 1-20 compared to last year.
Food products with a cooling effect are likewise selling well, including Kikkoman Corp.’s Gumen seasoning sauces. The sauces can be served with udon and other noodle dishes, allowing consumers to enjoy the dishes without the use of heat. Sales of Gumen in July increased 80 percent compared to last year.
Department stores and supermarkets have also begun providing special services on extremely hot days.
Tokyo department store Matsuya Ginza provides a free glass of sparkling wine to customers who book reservations at its beer garden before 6 p.m. on days, when temperatures exceed 35 C.
On July 28, the department store opened the beer garden an hour earlier than usual to coincide with “Premium Friday,” a corporate initiative held the last Friday of each month encouraging workers to leave the office early. It was brimming with customers before 4 p.m.
“I’m happy to end work early on a hot day and go drinking,” said a 40-year-old company worker living in Koto Ward, Tokyo.
Aeon Co. allows students to use conference and other rooms in some of its shopping centers for studying. The comfortable environment is appealing to students, who may spend more at the outlets.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, temperatures in Tokyo from July 18 to 27 averaged 27.3 C, which is 1.5 C higher than an average year. Temperatures in August are also forecast to exceed averages.
Toshihiro Nagahama, a researcher at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Inc., estimates that for every 1 C increase in temperature from July to September, household consumption increases by ¥320 billion due to stronger demand for air conditioners and other appliances, and a greater tendency to eat out to avoid cooking at home.