Maybe it wasn’t too soon for Rebecca Taylor to open a store in Tokyo after all. Fashion brands including Louis Vuitton and Forever 21 cautiously reopened their doors in Tokyo on Tuesday, while employees at H&M moved back to the capital city from Osaka. Slowly but surely, the city’s retail scene seems to be getting back to normal. And while brands are keeping an eye on their employees’ safety, they’re ever mindful that the earthquake and tsunami of two weeks ago will impact their bottom line.
WWD reports that many of the H&M employees who were offered the opportunity to work outside Tokyo, which has been grappling with rolling power outages and fear of radiation poisoning, turned it down and stayed in the city. So the company decided this week to come back to Tokyo and is now hard at work making sure its stores can handle customers. A company rep told the paper H&M stores in Japan “will most likely be reopened gradually.” She could not quantify how much the store closures would impact the company’s sales and said mostly, H&M is focused on making sure its employees are safe.
The same concerns prevailed at other stores, some of which were only open for a few hours Tuesday to save energy. But in a sign that things are slowly improving, a variety of stores welcomed customers:
Many fashion houses and luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Christian Dior and Chanel reopened their headquarters and flagship stores Tuesday after the three-day weekend. Monday’s foot traffic along Omotesando Avenue and Harajuku seemed close to normal levels and shoppers were seen making purchases at Vuitton, Dior and Forever 21. H&M’s closed flagship drew some puzzled looks from passersby.
Other brands weren’t so optimistic about their reopening their doors. Tiffany & Co. anticipated that its first quarter sales would fall 15 percent as a result of its Japanese stores being closed or not fully operational. Roberto Cavalli, which had planned to open a store in Tokyo in May, says it might hold off on that until things are fully stable.
But when that will be, we don’t know. Stock prices around the world seemed to rally with the news that some brands would move back to Tokyo, but a healthy share price doesn’t necessarily mean normalcy. We’d wager that it’ll be a long time before the full effect of this disaster will be felt, and even longer before it passes.