H&M opened its first store in Japan this past Saturday, and as expected, Japanese consumers turned out in droves. We took a trip down to the Ginza location around 5 p.m., and by our reckoning, the line was still about 1,000 feet long. Japanese news outlets variously reported from 3,000 to 5,000 people waiting in line throughout the day, and store staff said the wait to get in the store was 2-3 hours.
Given the pre-opening news coverage and the enormous base of shoppers in Tokyo, a huge turnout was to be expected. But long lines in the first weeks or months of operation are no guarantee of success for retailers over the long term in Japan.
Japanese consumers are curious and like to try news things. But once they've encountered the brand, are they satisfied with the product, store, the company and service?
Those are the key questions that remain to be answered.