Blog: Japan earthquake leaves lasting impact

Joe Ayling | 28 March 2011

As the tragic results of Japan's earthquake and tsunami continue to unfold, it is clear that the impact on business will be far-reaching too.

While exports of Japanese cars and electronics are suffering badly, imports of fashion goods are expected to falter as the country's huge retail market puts spending on ice.

As reported by just-style last week, manufacturers in major sourcing markets such as China and Vietnam are already bracing themselves for a drop in orders. And for most apparel suppliers, Japan is the third largest global export market for clothing and textile, behind only the US and EU regions.

The wider fallout from the disaster, which struck a fortnight ago, has been a rising death toll and nuclear power crisis in the country. Major retailers including Wal-Mart and Fast Retailing have donated millions towards relief efforts, but latest reports say more than 10,000 lost their lives in the disaster.

Japan remains a key supplier of advanced high-tech fibres, but most significantly provides a lucrative consumer market for high-end brands, representing 11% of global luxury goods sales. But the sheer scale of the tsunami means that repairing the damage is going to take up significant future investment.

Indeed, Kurt Cavano, CEO of the TradeCard sourcing platform, told just-style last week: "If Japan has to refocus all its resources on rebuilding then there's going to be less spending on clothing."

Although retailers including H&M, Mango and Uniqlo shut some stores in the aftermath of the earthquake, most are now back to normal.

However, it will be some time before life gets back to normal for Japan's shell-shocked communities.


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