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Japan B2C eCommerce

Covid-19 was a catalyst for more Japanese households to start shopping online.  During lockdowns, consumers found it convenient and have continued shopping online once lockdowns were lifted and brick-and-mortar stores reopened.  Market research reports and statistical trends predict that Japanese households will continue to shop online, and the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) expects there will be significant growth potential in the Japanese B2C eCommerce market.

In March 2023, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) published the latest “Survey of Household Economy”.  It shows that in January 2023, Japanese households* spent an average of $159 on online goods and services, and that the average monthly spending on online shopping in 2023 has so far remained consistent with 2022 levels, which were higher than 2019-2021 levels.  The survey shows that in 2022, Japanese households spent an average of $160 per month – 11% more than 2021 online spending levels and 45% more than 2019.  Although the percentages of all Japanese households that shopped online in 2022 remained the same as 2021 levels, 52.7%, the average monthly online spending by households that shopped online was $303 – an increase of 11% compared to 2021.

Food was the most popular category for online shopping in 2022.  On average, Japanese households purchased $36 worth of food per month online – more than double what they spent online for food in 2019.  Travel showed a big recovery in 2022; Japanese households spent an average of $23 per month, an increase of 95.1% from 2021.  However, online travel spending in 2022 was still less than the average amount spent on travel pre-Covid-19.  The third largest category of online spending was apparel and accessories; on average, Japanese households purchased $17 per month in 2022.

Consumers also continue to buy entertainment online.  Spending on tickets for concerts, shows, and various events increased 71% from 2021 to 2022.  In 2022, purchases of online digital entertainment, including e-books, music, videos, and apps, was significantly higher than in 2019.  In 2022, Japanese households spent an average of $3.36 per month for digital entertainment, compared to $1.60 per month in 2019.  Households with a head of household aged 34 or younger spent an average of $6.78 per month in 2022 on digital entertainment; twice as much as the average spending by all households ($3.36) and a 168% increase compared to the spending on digital entertainment by the same age group in 2019, which was $2.52.   

Among households that shopped online, households with a head of household between 35 and 39 years old spent the most, an average of $322 per month in 2022.  Those 34 years and younger spent an average of $316, and those between 50 and 54 years old spent an average of $314.  Another noteworthy trend is the rise of senior citizens shopping online.  In 2022, 33.6% of households with heads of household older than 65 years shopped online compared to 23.3% in 2019.  The Household Economy Survey also reports that shopping via mobile phone is the most common method of online shopping for Japanese consumers. 

Japanese B2C eCommerce continues to grow, and households that already participate in online shopping continue to spend more year-on-year since 2019.  However, according to the January 2023 Family Income and Expenditure Survey, online shopping only accounts for 7.2% of all household spending in Japan (excluding purchases of housing, vehicles, gifts of money, and remittance payments).  A market research report by Neo Marketing shows the top reason Japanese consumers buy online is because they can place an order any time rather than be restricted by brick-and-mortar stores’ opening hours.  Additionally, consumers became familiar and comfortable with online shopping during Covid-19 lockdowns and realized it is easy and convenient. 

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*Households are two or more persons.  CS used an exchange rate of 130 Yen to US$1 in this report.