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Okinawan products dominate special holiday sales counters

Date Posted: 2008-12-05

With only 27 days until the end of 2008, stores and supermarkets have jumped into gear, setting up special gift corners to handle traditional end-of-the-year gift sales.

The custom of Oseibo, giving gifts to company bosses, relatives or friends, stimulates fierce competition between stores touting their goods as the best choices for gifts. Traditional gift sets have always been oil, rice, canned foods or beer, but supermarket and store managers this year are pushing Okinawa products to the front of the displays.

Tainted food scandals across Japan throughout the year, from frozen gyoza to rice, have banners proclaiming Okinawa food products to be “very safe, and fresh, too.” One supermarket is promoting the Okinawan Dream Story, an Okinawan original pork sausage set or seaweed set. “I need to be sure to buy only good products for gifts,” said one excited shopper. “Gifts should be safe and not like dangerous products, and I won’t buy gifts made in China.”

A store marketing official says about half the sets being sold this year are made in Okinawa. He says businesses are careful to promote who produced the products, and where they were made.

The flagging economy has store and supermarket managers lowering prices to accommodate shoppers. Gifts in the ¥2,000~5,000 range are most popular, because “we can feel that depression will continue a few years more, at least.” The supermarket director added “people don’t buy expensive gifts anymore, but like the inexpensive ones.” All stores and supermarkets say they’ve increased the number of gift sets under ¥2,000 being sold this year.

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