Is Uniqlo cheap in Japan? Don’t come home with a dent in your wallet

Do you like buying clothes when you travel abroad and keep them as souvenirs to remind you of your adventures and of countries you have visited? But you’d hate to spend outside of your budget and come out of a Uniqlo store with a dent in your wallet, right? 

In this article, we’ll help you find out if Uniqlo is expensive or affordable in Japan so you can avoid paying an armful of expensive clothes you could have gotten cheaper in your home country.

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Is Uniqlo cheap in Japan? Don't come home with a dent in your wallet 1

Expensive or Affordable?

When you think of Uniqlo, the first things that come to mind are functional but rational, minimalist, flexible fashion like leggings, comfortable high-quality clothes, and smart-casual attire at an affordable price.

It is the go-to brand for young professionals who want to look superb without spending too much on their wardrobe.

The same is true, especially when you are in Japan, where Uniqlo originated from. It stayed true to its branding and only sells high-quality clothes at an affordable price.

No matter which branch you visit, the prices of clothes and apparel like socks Japanese wear with sandals, displayed in Uniqlo stores are cheaper in Japan than in any other country.

Let us look at this comparison.

ProductJapan (¥)US ($)Singapore (SGD)
Basic Uniqlo T-shirt59014.9019.90
Heattech T-shirt1,29014.9019.90
Denim Jeans2,99049.9059.90
Fleece Jacket3,99039.9049.90

Furthermore, while prices of Uniqlo clothes in Japan are standard across branches within the country’s borders, the prices of clothes at their other physical retail locations around the globe may vary depending on transportation costs, tariffs, and local taxes imposed.

So, even if the cost of living in rural areas is different from urban areas, the price of Uniqlo clothes is the same all over Japan.

You can check the table below to see the price difference of Uniqlo clothes sold in Japan compared to other countries where their products are distributed and sold.

Is Uniqlo cheap in Japan? Don't come home with a dent in your wallet 2

Why is Uniqlo cheaper in Japan

There are a few factors that contributed to the cheaper price of Uniqlo products in Japan.

Is Uniqlo cheap in Japan? Don't come home with a dent in your wallet 3

Place of Origin

One of the reasons why Uniqlo is cheaper in Japan is because it is its place of origin and it is where the company is headquartered.

Before this brand became prominent across the globe, it is a household name in Japan that opened its doors to consumers in June of 1984.

It rose in popularity when Japan was in the throes of recession in the 90s and early 2000s, and affordable but quality clothes are very much welcome.

Tax-free for foreign visitors

Another factor is that Uniqlo Japan offers tax-free purchases to international travelers where we can save up to 8% on our total shopping spending.

Provided that you are looking for extra discounts, make sure to bring your passport when you go on your next planned shopping spree.

Unique business model

Uniqlo has a unique business model that allows it to control the price of its products.

Its ownership of product planning, designing, outsourcing of manufacturing, and distribution all helped to keep its operation at a low cost.

Although the company sources production of its clothes from outside of Japan, it has built a strong relationship with its partner factories and hold an annual conference to discuss issues they have to deal with in terms of production, work-related issues, and proper work condition.

Furthermore, this business model directly connects the company to stores, direct suppliers, and consumers.

This allowed for a fast return on investment as what consumers buy in stores impacts the ordering process and is directly translated to manufacturing orders, thus stocks are updated and upgraded weekly.

With this business model, there is no need for months-long planning or tedious preparation to launch and distribute products, helping the company save on this side of the business.

Transportation costs

As mentioned earlier, Uniqlo is headquartered in Japan and does not have to shoulder additional costs to bring its products to all its local stores. While for other countries, there are additional costs to transport the products via land, air, or sea.

No tariffs or additional local taxes

Uniqlo is a local brand in Japan and does not need to pay tariffs or additional local taxes to bring in products from its supply chain abroad and distribute them locally.

Meanwhile, when Uniqlo distributes and sells its products in other countries, it is required to pay tariffs and national taxes.

For instance, the United States imposes considerable tariffs on imported clothing and apparel that could go high as 32%, while some countries like Australia and Singapore levies less than that. This is the main reason why the prices of Uniqlo clothing are comparatively varied. 

On top of that, the company will be charged local (municipal or city) taxes to operate physical stores where it can sell its products.

All these additional fees contribute to the higher cost of Uniqlo clothes sold in retail stores abroad.