Late night supermarket salarymen

Nikkei had some interesting coverage of a new social trend – men in supermarkets!

Besuited Men Begin To Haunt Supermarkets Late At Night

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Suit-attired men have become a conspicuous late-night presence at urban supermarkets. They often buy stuff for breakfast the next day or snacks to have with a drink or two before hitting the sack. At some supermarkets, late-night sales are beginning to surpass last year’s figures.

Most of these men buy something to munch on while they unwind with a drink or two. Croquettes, fried potatoes, packages of sliced fish as well as canned mackerel and saury sell well at these stores. Also popular are sushi, instant-noodle cups, frozen food, cut fruit and other ready-to-eat items.

One reason besuited men are haunting supermarkets late at night is the economic downturn. Japan’s armies of white-collar workers are going out to drink with coworkers and friends less often these days as they try to save money. But they are also loath to cook. “My wife fixes dinner,” one male grocery shopper said, “but I buy these snacks just for myself.”

Late-night shopping used to be done at convenience stores, but lower supermarket prices have given some night owls an irresistible choice. At supermarkets, a package of sliced tuna that goes for 400 yen during the day is often marked down to half that at night. Bread and side dishes sell for 30-50 yen less at night. “It’s difficult to ask my wife for a raise in my monthly allowance,” a man in his 30s said. “But I can cut costs by buying these discounted things.”

Could the translator have chosen the term “haunting” as a reference to the salaryman’s typically defeated, dead-inside demeanor? A blogger can only speculate.

One thing I have really noticed as a salaryman who shares grocery shopping duties with my wife is that I am something of a rare breed. Ito Yokado is overwhelmingly filled with housewives shopping for dinner, even at night. But occasionally (and I guess there are more than before but I feel like it’s been constant for at least the past year) there are the salarymen who line up with just three items – a ready-to-eat piece of food, some ostumami beer snack, and the ever-popular but morally reprehensible happoshu or other near-beer. There seem to be more of them shopping at the discount supermarket Big A than Ito Yokado, which is a more traditional supermarket/department store. In addition, Big A is where the off-duty construction workers buy their own happoshu-and-otsumami sets.

If these men are foregoing drinking sessions with their colleagues in favor of quality time at home, so much the better!

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Check the Adamukun blog for Adamu’s shared articles and recommended links.

5 thoughts on “Late night supermarket salarymen”

  1. It seems like stores really are starting to cater more to my breed.

    The Sunkus between my apartment and the station just started selling 300-yen cans of Guinness. Given the choice of that, 240-yen Yebisu or 220-yen Sapporo, the extra margin on the Guinness seems eminently justifiable. They are squeezing more money out of me even in a recession!

    I just wish supermarkets were open later. I used to have a 24-hour supermarket near my -cubbyhole- apartment in Akasaka. So convenient. All the obvious supermarkets near my apartment now close around 10 pm.

  2. @Joe Jones, Guiness is 300yen in our area? Tokyo-proper is rough, dang. I’m in the greater metro area in Saitam Pref. and Guiness goes for 20-30yen cheaper here depending on where you get it.

    @Adamu, I think I’ll join you in the rare breed category 😉 and also add to that cooking duties once in awhile.

  3. I have a supermarket open until 2am about 3 minutes from my house, and a couple of 24 hours ones within 10 minutes, as well as a bunch that close down at 9 or 10.

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