Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The Walmartization of Seiyu
The department store chain "Seiyu" is one of the larger ones, at least in the greater Kanto area of Japan. The stores are usually quite cheap and often in conjunction with train stations and feature a regular supermarket and a decent selection of other stuff of stuff ranging from decent to questionable. It's a quite typical small Japanese department store and can be useful if you live close to one, but nothing spectacular that makes it worth going out of one's way to find one.
Since quite a few years back, I knew that American chain Walmart had aqcuired a majority ownership stake in Seiyu and by now, I think it's a fully owned subsidiary of Walmart. The Walmart ownership hardly was noticeable the last time I found myself in a Seiyu department store (a few months back) but as I happened to find myself in one this weekend I was surprised by the total walmartization that the store had gone through.
The selection of goods in the supermarket section was basically identical to that of any other larger supermarket and nothing "Walmarty" or American about it, but this time all of the signs had been replaced by new signs in the blue color of Walmart and looked distinctively "non-Japanese". To my big dissapointment though, the customers looked like normal Japanese people and nothing like those in people of Walmart in the US. Maybe this will have changed by the next time I find myself in one?