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Bloomberg reports that "Muji, the Japanese retailer that sells simply designed items such as notebooks, cosmetics and clothing, is boosting the number of stores showcasing more affordable products to attract consumers being hit by rising prices.

"The new shops, focused on selling essential household goods at ¥500 ($3.4) or less, are being built near or inside train stations in the suburbs of Tokyo and Osaka by Ryohin Keikaku Co., the brand’s parent company. Target consumers include commuters, students and local residents.

"The Muji 500 stores represent a shift for the retailer, which has built up a following for its beige notebooks and monotone clothes. Often located in trendy retail areas, Muji has gained a reputation for offering quality goods but also being more expensive than rivals. That makes it more vulnerable in an inflationary environment, with higher prices fueled by the weaker yen and higher raw material prices even as wages remain stagnant."

The company says it could eventually have as many as 2,000 of the discount stores - Japan has 850 train stations with daily traffic exceeding 30,000 people that it believes could support the format.  In addition, the opportunity is seen to partner with convenience stores and drug stores where there would be mutual benefit to a partnership.

KC's View:

When I read this story, I found myself wondering if there is an idea here for supermarkets.  Could they create inflation-buster aisles charge on a regular basis, bring greater attention than usual to items that allow people to get more bang for their bucks?

I always think it is important to acknowledge, even embrace, the elephants in the room, and while inflation does present challenges, I also think it offers opportunity to retailers willing to present themselves as effective agents for the consumer.