Uniqlo March Sales Rocked by Earthquake Disaster

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UniqloTokyo–Fast Retailing saw total sales at its domestic Uniqlo stores fall 10.5% in March due to the effect of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The company reported Friday that domestic same-store sales at in March dropped for the first time in three months compared with March 2009.

“Same-store sales declined year on year for March due to damage and disruptions resulting from the March 11 Tohoku-Kanto earthquake,” the company confirmed. Fast Retailing said the earthquake damaged 160 group stores, but that 146 of these stores were now back up and running.

The turnaround in the company’s performance indicates just how much of an impact the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Japan has had on retail. The subsequent nuclear emergency has only made matters worst in afflicted areas. About a dozen Uniqlo stores in the quake-stricken remained shut following the disaster.

Company Donates More than $15 Million to Relief Efforts

The number of customer visits to Uniqlo stores in March also fell 13.0% from a year earlier on a same-store basis. Although there were fewer people in its stores, the amount each customer spent rose 3%, Fast Retailing said.

Fast Retailing was one of the first retail businesses to respond to help victims.

Tadashi Yanai, ceo, said he would donate $12 million to relief effort on top of the company’s $3.6 million donation. Employees raised another $1.2 million, too.

The company also donated about $8.5 million worth of apparel to victims and installed donation boxes in all its Uniqlo and Theory stores.

According to geologists, the earthquake, the largest ever recorded in Japan, actually shifted part of the country 13 feet further from mainland Asia. Authorities in Japan estimate the death toll will reach 10,000, and at least 350,000 people are homeless.

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