On the 2nd of January, things are starting to revert back to normal and nowadays most of the big sales start already from the 1st making Tokyo seem a little less of a ghost town. On the 2nd I ventured out to our local mall/department store to just check out the sale and scout a little for an additional TV that we are thinking of getting. Although everything was basically open for business the crowds that regularly haunt the mall on a weekend were nowhere to be seen and the place felt quite deserted. As I went in to the local electronic goods shop to possibly scout for a bargain TV, first checking out what was on display and waiting for one of the usually so aggressive sales reps to put his claws in me. As I was looking around, very much looking like a potential customer for a few minutes, no sales rep came around (usually they are very aggressive as they usually get incentive based on their sales, and TVs are probably one of the more attractive areas for them). Looking towards the service counter I could see three of them hanging around looking bored and tired.
As I realised that no one would come around to discuss my potential purchase, I went over to the service counter and said to one of the guys "Hey, I'm thinking of buying a TV and was hoping to get a little help?". The sales rep looked like I had put a huge burden on him, let out a big sigh and followed me over to the TV section. I pointed out one of the TVs that I had been considering and said "I'm thinking of this TV, is it available?" and without almost no delay I got back a "Nope, that one is not in stock and it'll take a while before we get in new ones" (followed by silence). In a normal case, what I would have expected here is a follow up with alternate suggestions or some kind of pitch, but the rep seemed satisfied with his response and went back to looking bored. So I followed up with a "Ok, but how about these versions that are around the same price, are those in stock?". Again met with a big sigh and a "Fine, I'll go check" as he noted down something in his notebook that probably was meant to be the product codes but looked just like doodles to me. After a few minutes he came back "Nope, those are also sold out, dunno when we'll get them back in stock". With that I gave up and left the store, as TV-less as I had been when I went in there.
On the way out, I stopped by the Subway sandwich shop to get some lunch for the Salaryman family. I've shopped there countless of times before and service is usually flawless, fast and never with any mix-ups. However this day the two girls working the counter seemed completely depressed and for the second time I was met with a huge sigh as I placed my order. The standard politeness was completely gone and replaced with complete and utter indifference.
But in the end, I completely sympathise with these poor souls that have to work on the 2nd of January serving the few people that actually venture out when the rest of the country are chilling out at home. We went out today again and things seemed to have reverted more back to normal, but the 2nd of January seem to be the twilight zone of Japanese customer service when they can't be bothered to keep up pretences.