Posts by Yuzo Ono - Tokyo

Anxiety only one reason why Japanese shelves were bare after the disaster

Products such as bottled water, instant noodles and batteries all but disappeared from supermarket shelves across Tokyo after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and a lot of people (myself included) believed anxiety was causing the run on certain goods. But a survey by the newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun showed that in reality, the fault may be down to Japan’s retail distribution system: Only 17 percent of respondents said they were purchasing with the intent to have backup supplies. Factories keep their stock levels low, so when they shut down after the quake, products ran out almost immediately. On top of this, many products were diverted to the disaster areas.

In terms of Japan’s retail system, the efficiency that is so highly valued under normal circumstances backfired in the face of such a large-scale disaster. For manufacturers, creating contingency plans in alignment with the government and publicizing this may be one way to prevent a recurrence of excessive anxiety and stocking-up behavior during the recovery process.

Photo Credit: robertstinnett


大野裕三 – 東京