Consumption in Japan


Compared to a year ago, how has your desire to purchase changed? graph of japanese statisticsEven though consumer prices have dropped 2.4% over the last year, consumer spending is flat here, so this recent survey from MyVoice into consumption attitudes in Japan is very timely. Also, today I read an interesting article on Observing Japan about amongst other things how Keynesian economics says consumption is the key to economic growth, but after ten years of uncertainty in Japan, how can the DPJ pry open people’s wallets?


Over the first five days of September 2009 14,139 members of the MyVoice internet community completed a private online questionnaire. 54% of the sample were female, 2% in their teens, 14% in their twenties, 34% in their thirties, 30% in their forties, and 20% aged fifty or older.

I’m all too aware of cutting back and delaying spending, not helped by having a 30% cut in bonuses in the summer, which meant that there was very little money left over after paying the bonus portion of the mortgage. Our home washing machine is liable to conk out at any moment with the drum disintegrating, the buttons losing their responsiveness, and the spin cycle making funny noises, but… The rice cooker pot is also way past replacement time, and the microwave’s been a bit dodgy too… If only I had ten times as many visitors I could easily pay it all off! Anyone want to buy an advertisement on What Japan Thinks?

Research results

Q1: Compared to a year ago, how has your overall spending on your lifestyle changed? (Sample size=14,139)

Increased a little16.7%
Not changed39.7%
Decreased a little24.9%

Q2: Compared to a year ago, how has your desire to purchase changed? (Sample size=14,139)

Heightened a little11.2%
Not changed42.8%
Lowered a little29.2%

Q3: In which areas are you suppressing the urge to spend money? (Sample size=14,139, multiple answer)

Travel, leisure50.4%
Eating out40.0%
Fashion, accessories36.3%
Digital, audio equipment, home electrical items27.6%
Food, food ingredients24.1%
Homes, furniture, interior20.5%
DVD, CD, books, comics, games, etc19.8%
Beauty, cosmetics19.4%
Communication with friends16.4%
Live music, cinema, concerts, etc15.9%
Car, motorbike14.9%
Celebratory events (weddings, funerals, presents, etc)10.8%
Health, sports, recreation10.3%
Internet, mobile phone9.5%
Education, qualifications, learning8.6%
Photography, cooking, crafts, gardening, other hobbies7.8%
Pachinko, horse racing, etc6.6%
Children’s, grandchildren’s education-related5.6%
Nothing in particular12.5%
No answer0.1%

Q4: Which of the following are close to your current expenditure patterns? (Sample size=14,139, multiple answer)

Continue to economise, but splash out now and again44.0%
Try to resist buying non-essential items32.7%
Usually aware of economising28.9%
When buying essential items, choose the cheapest price17.2%
Buy what I want to buy, but economise on other stuff to make up12.6%
Not really aware of economising4.9%
No answer0.6%

Q5: On an average day off, about how much free time do you have? (Sample size=14,139)

Up to 30 minutes2.5%
30 minutes to 1 hour4.0%
1 to 2 hours10.9%
2 to 3 hours14.0%
3 to 4 hours13.0%
4 to 5 hours8.2%
More than 5 hours47.1%
No answer0.4%

Q6: How do you spend free time on days off? (Sample size=14,139, multiple answer)

Net surfing57.6%
Watching television, reading newspaper55.4%
Lazing around the house53.3%
Reading, listening to music, playing games at home39.9%
Going out with family28.2%
Enjoying the family atmosphere26.3%
Watching movies, theatre, sports21.6%
Eating out19.8%
Hobbies (karaoke, golf, fishing, etc)17.9%
Going out with friends, on date17.3%
Having a long bath10.0%
Mobile phone7.1%
Don’t have free time on days off1.2%
No answer0.1%

Q7: Which of the following is closest to your way of thinking? (Sample size=14,139)

Pay money to save time13.5%
Spend time to save money53.1%
No answer1.0%
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1 Comment »

  1. October 1, 2009 @ 15:36

    Hey, great blog! This is Kim from Is there anyway to get in touch with you via email? You can reach us at

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