When Japan’s cheap-and-cheerful clothing brand Uniqlo raised its prices in 2014, it was an endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to stimulate a lackluster economy: with confidence high, even purveyors of affordable jumpers became price setters.
But as Abe’s expansionary policies struggle to rekindle growth, Uniqlo has reversed those rises, lowering prices last year and stepping up discounts again in the first two months of this year.
The brand’s owner, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd., now illustrates a bleaker picture of a corporate sector squeezed by sticky overhead costs, cooling consumer enthusiasm and lower prices.
“Things aren’t looking good–they’re rather bad,” Tadashi Yanai, the group’s charismatic CEO told reporters after the retailer reported quarterly earnings on Thursday. Read more