Japanese Retailing Through the 1990s: Retailer Performance in a Decade of Slow Growth



Dawson J & Larke R (2004) Japanese Retailing Through the 1990s: Retailer Performance in a Decade of Slow Growth. British Journal of Management, 15 (1), p. 73–94.

The development of Japanese retailing through the 1990s is used to illustrate the applicability of a Europe-based growth model in a recessionary market. Through the 1990s the Japanese economy suffered low growth and periods of recession, after strong growth through the 1980s. Retail sales in the 1990s increased only slightly whilst floorspace developments begun in the 1980s and the result of retailer expansion strategies generated increased retail capacity. Large retailers pursued strategies of opening more stores in order to generate sales, but this proved disastrous and resulted in lower productivity, high levels of debt, low levels of innovation and consequential need to restructure. General merchandise and department-store retailers were slow to see the need to restructure and innovate. In contrast, three groups of retailers obtained competitive advantages from the recession, namely retailers who responded quickly to emergent market segments, foreign retailers and e-retailers. The strategic responses to recession and the reasons behind these responses are illustrated and suggestions made on how the experiences of the 1990s will affect development in the early 2000s. Implications of the retailers' behaviour are indicated for retailer strategies, the restructuring of the sector and for research on strategy and structural change.

Japanese retailing; recession; innovation; retail strategy; international retailers

British Journal of Management: Volume 15, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2004
Publication date online18/02/2004
PublisherWiley-Blackwell for the British Academy of Management

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Professor John Dawson

Professor John Dawson

Emeritus Professor, Marketing & Retail