Monday, August 22, 2011

Wedding rings a hot item in disaster zone

Sendai — Sales of engagement and wedding rings have risen sharply at major department stores in Sendai since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Fujisaki, a Sendai department store founded in 1819, said an increasing number of customers have bought rings since the store fully reopened on April 22, with May-July sales rising roughly 30 percent from a year earlier.

"I think the disaster prompted people to rethink the bond they have with their partners and to reflect on family," said Yuka Aihara of Sendai Mitsukoshi, which saw April-July wedding and engagement ring sales double from a year earlier after full store operations resumed in April.

Sendai Mitsukoshi's customers are mainly elderly women, but "since the disaster, we now have more couples in their 20s or 30s," said Akira Sato, who runs the store's jewelry section.

At Fujisaki, a young woman who was looking for a wedding ring for her partner said the catastrophe motivated them to get married.

When the quake struck, the woman, who is from the Kanto region, was visiting her boyfriend in Rikuzentakta, Iwate Prefecture, one of the worst-hit areas. It took them four days to be reunited at a shelter, prompting them to tie the knot, she said.

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