- Japan's first DIY store was a store called "DOIT", which opened in Yono?City, Saitama Prefecture, in December 1972. Hinode Co., Ltd., a firm?managing a taxi company and several supermarkets, opened the DIY store on a 1,500m2 site that had formerly been a warehouse. The aim was to achieve daily sales of JY1 million, and the company was prepared to close down the store if after six months it did not prove viable, but although located practically in the middle of nowhere, the target was achieved in half a year and the company decided to continue running the store.
- The word "DIY" came into popular use in London, England, in the years following the World War II. Most of the buildings in the city had been destroyed by heavy bombing during the war, and a movement to rebuild the city emerged spontaneously among the people of London as they sought to restore the city themselves. The motto then was "Do it yourself". DIY then spread all over Europe, and people's desire to preserve the environment in which they lived soon saw it develop into a community movement. In the late 1960s, home improvement centers offering people the opportunity to dynamically reform their own living environment began to appear in the United States, and the market grew massively. In the United States, home improvement centers developed mainly on the west coast; they had everything needed for the home and garden, and customers could come to shop by car. The number of people from Japan visiting America for information also increased.
- Formerly in Japan, home improvements and repairs were all customarily left to professionals, but with the development of residential districts in the suburbs, housing specialists (craftsmen) capable of making repairs and improvements could no longer be found locally. In addition, elements of Western housing were incorporated into Japanese-style housing, and residents had to do tasks around the home themselves, such as painting, wallpapering and reflooring, and repairing taps and pipes of waterworks. The marked increase in labor costs in Japan also made it impossible to leave repairs to professional craftsmen. The 1974 Oil Crisis, the emergence of a tendency to avoid waste and look after things carefully, and the growing motorization of the country all combined to make DIY increasingly popular in Japan.
- The number of lanes in bowling alleys throughout Japan has fallen from 120,000 to around 30,000-40,000. Some bowling alleys that closed down were converted into supermarkets, discount stores and private cramming schools, but the number used for home center stores has also increased. Home center stores spread mainly in the suburbs where large sites were available.
- Since their first appearance in 1972, the number of home center stores in Japan has increased as follows:
||No. of Stores
|Total Sales (JY Bill.)
- The usual translation of "DIY (do-it-yourself)" in Japanese is "nichiyou daiku", which literally means "Sunday carpenter", but the Japan DIY Industry Association defines do-it-yourself as follows: "DIY is the creation of comfortable living space through one's own efforts in order to improve one's home and way of living".
- Home center stores in the United States now have annual sales of JY18 trillion, and annual national sales per capita are around JY100,000. In comparison, annual sales in Japan are JY3.3 trillion, and annual sales per capita are approximately JY30,000.
- The average size of a store in Japan is 1,650m2, but the addition of a 150-200 car parking lot requires a site of 4,950-6,600m2. Annual sales for a store of 1,650m2 average JY1 billion, and sales per tsubo (a unit of land measure equivalent to approximately 3.3m2) are between JY1.5-2 million. Many stores rent the land and buildings. Most merchandise is stocked through wholesalers, and little is bought directly from manufacturers. Goods are normally paid for in cash. There has recently been a noticeable increase in the number of large stores of 2,310-3,300m2, and stores such as "Home Assist" measuring 9,900m2 are also appearing.
- Many stores have reduced the number of full-time employees and make use of part-timers, but they have also increased the number of shop assistants and seek to promote friendly service. Professionally qualified staff are employed to provide customers with advice on subjects such as gardening, tools and paints, and to answer their queries. The MITI-Approved DIY Adviser Qualifying Test is held annually.
- A rich variety of goods is on offer, and the composition of sales at home center stores by category in 1994 was as follows:
|Car accessories/camping equipment
|Electrical supplies (bulbs, batteries, etc.)
|Leisure (hobby/craft supplies, toys, stationery, etc.)
|Others (clothes, food, pharmaceuticals, etc.)
|Services (delivery, rental, etc.)
A large range of products is more convenient and attracts more customers.
- Department stores and supermarkets have as yet not entered this market as shoppers only visit home center stores at weekends, thus making them inefficient.
- The proportion of imports amongst goods sold at home center stores is low at present. No more than 2-3% are imports, and these consist mainly of timber, etc. Even at Tokyu HandsEthe figure is around 10% at most. The proportion of imports is however expected to increase in future.
- The only Japanese home center store to have expanded overseas so far is Comery, which opened a joint-venture store in Dalian, China, with a Chinese company in autumn 1997.
- There are virtually no home center stores in Asia apart from a joint-venture store opened in Taipei by a Taiwanese company with Britain's B & Q, and the 10,000m2 Homeway home center store opened in Tianjin in December 1996 by China's Tianjin Building Materials Corporation and Home Depot of the United States. In the future, American home center stores may well expand into the Japanese market.
- The number of home center stores is increasing and competition is becoming more fierce in Japan. One survival strategy for the future would be to promote distinctive features acceptable to customers. Such means could include stocking a particularly large range of goods, improving the quality of staff, and creating a reassuring environment for customers to shop in. Computerized data on individual customers may also be needed to use in order to more accurately meet the requirements of a customer when he/she returns to shop at a store.
Data provided by the Japan DIY Industry Association
Note: This issue focused on the distribution industry having stores like (1) hundred-yen shops, (2) outlet stores and (3) home center stores.