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Parasol sales flourish as monsoon season wimps

Date Posted: 2007-06-08

Umbrella sales should be soaring now, but parasols to shield against the bright sunlight are taking center stage in Okinawa.

It's supposed to be monsoon season, but the rains are shying away from Okinawa and setting weather prognosticators worrying. May brought few rainstorms, leaving the island with only 16% of the rains of a normal year.

That worries forecasters, who apprehensively suggest the only way Okinawa may get its rain this year is through typhoons. The agriculture industry is already worrying about having enough water for crops, and is worried that tight water supplies could force government officials to cut their supplies and permit farm crops to die.

Talk of water rationing is already floating through government offices and hallways, as officials keep a wary eye on the sunshine that shouldn’t be there in early June.

Department stores say the rainy season is normally a boon for umbrella sales, ”but somehow this year we can’t sell umbrellas, but sunshade parasol sales are doing very well.” A Ryubo Department Store manager says “usually during the rainy season we sell and average of 30 umbrellas a day, but now we’re selling about 50 parasols and only ten umbrellas each day.”

A San-A Mainplace clerk in Omoromachi says the same. “Parasol sales are doing well, while umbrellas aren’t. We’re also selling lots of accessories like gloves, neck sunguards and more. Everything is selling well.” A 70-year-old customer this week said “I like the parasols because I don’t want to get a sunburn, and the parasol designs are so beautiful.” Still, the lady complained about forecasters predicting rains that simply aren’t coming.

Forecasters say Okinawa should have received 182.2mm of rain by the beginning of June, but the numbers are only 16% of that. The South Daito Island has picked up only 29% of what it gets in a normal year, and that has forecasters concerned because they see few major storms on the immediate horizon.

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