100 Yen Shops (or One Coin Shops) have steadily gained in popularity over the last several years, as the economic situation in Japan has worsened. 100 Yen Shops (百円ショップ hyaku-en shoppu) are everywhere, and they stock a variety of items from clothing to stationery, housewares to food, with each item priced at 100 yen. Such shops are analogous to dollar stores in the United States. A recent variation of the 100 Yen Shops are 99 Yen Shops, analogous to the 99 cent stores in the United States. 88 Yen stores also exist, with a notable player being Daiei. A sales tax of currently 5% is usually added, so that in reality the 100 Yen purchase costs 105 Yen.
One major player is Hirotake Yano, the founder of Daiso Industries Co. Ltd., which runs the "100 Yen Plaza" chain. The first store opened in 1991, but there are around 1,300 stores in Japan, and the number is increasing by around 40 stores per month.
The key to the success of the 100 yen stores is to buy large volume, mostly from international suppliers as for example mainland China and Brazil, negotiating large discounts. This way products can be sold for 100 yen at a profit that would normaly cost up to 5 times more in regular stores. In some cases, however, products may be found more cheaply at department or grocery stores, particularly in the case of food products.
Similar shops happened to open around Asia as well. In Hong Kong, even department stores opened their own 10-dollar-shop (around USD1.28, JPY140) to compete in the market, and thus there are now "8-dollar-shop" (around 1.024, JPY110) in Hong Kong, in order to compete with a lower price. Note that there is no sales tax in Hong Kong, but the relative price compared with Japan and US are still higher.