Online Buying Surges in Japan

In a recent economic white paper, the Japanese Ministry of Industry and Trade noted that Japan’s retail e-commerce market grew 5.4% in 2016 (to 15.1 trillion yen) with 2.5 trillion of this business being done over mobile phones. A breakdown of this market shows that retail goods (as opposed to services, or digital products) made up about half the total, and that smart phone purchases accounted for 31.93% of this sector.

For anyone who once marveled at the high percentage of Japanese train commuters reading books, but now sees the same riders with eyes glued to cellphones, this comes as no surprise. Along with the fact that almost no one commutes by car in the cities, and given the undying penchant of the Japanese for working extremely long hours, the emergence of this “buy-on-the-fly” culture makes perfect sense.

So much for the age of the designer shopping bag!

The white paper concludes that the rapid growth of e-commerce and mobile purchasing will continue in Japan, even as total retail consumption trends downward.

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