The Nikkei released survey results on 1,000 city-dwelling single men and women in their 20s through 40s who have no children, conducted online by Macromill on 18 through 19 January 2013.
55.5% of young adults in their 20s said "because I am connected to my friends online, I do not feel lonely when I go out to eat or for some leisure on my own." This is more than 10 percentage points higher than respondents in their 40s, indicating that the young adults are more digitally connected, and thus, have less need for physical company.
Interestingly, when these "do it solo" consumers were divided into four groups - True Solos who prefer to be alone and do not wish to contact people digitally when out on their own; Masked Solos who enjoy being alone but want to stay connected to friends; Part Time Solos; and Anti-Solos who enjoy being with friends and want to stay connected even when they are alone - the True Solos are the largest, at 46.0%, and Anti-Solos were the minority at only 10.9%.
In terms of spending, 36.3% said they are indeed spending more on a monthly basis than three years ago with 40.0% of the Masked Solos in their 20s being the largest group to say so.
So, what do they spend on?
55.5% of men who eat out alone said they go to beef bowl places while 64.0% of women said they go to self-service coffee shops.
Other destinations for men are:
No.2 ramen (noodle) shops
No.3 self service coffee shops
No.4 western fast food restaurants
No.5 soba (buckwheat noodles) and udon restaurants
For women, they are:
No.2 western fast food restaurants
No.3 full service coffee shops
No.4 casual restaurants
No.5 ramen shops
For future consumption, men said they would like to go out for beef noodles and travel domestically alone, while women said they would like to go to self service coffee shops and the movies.
75.7% of respondents said that they would like to be able to enjoy going out on their own in their old age.
### CarpediemJapan.com views and observations ###
Already in Japan, there are some karaoke boxes that cater specifically to solo customers, and dropping into any coffee shop - be it Starbucks, Doutor, or Veloce - will mean seeing many solo customers who are not necessarily waiting for friends to show up.
Stand up bars in popular locations that offer tapas style small dishes, once the "urban oasis" for the middle aged white collar men are also increasing in popularity, even among older working women, as a casual place they could drop by on their own. Perhaps because many are not too closed in or only have short curtains instead of walls.
Even before Starbucks starting pushing the "third place" concept, coffee shops in Japan have been that third place where businessmen may stop by on their way to work for a 500-yen breakfast which may typically be some toast, hard boiled egg, small salad, and coffee; ow where a housewife sits down for a coffee and a slice of cake on her way home from groceries shopping; or a hideout for a middle aged man on a weekend to sit quietly with a book away from his family.
And who could blame us? We have 1/4 of the population of the US living on 1/25 of the land mass, with only 28% of it being arable. We are literally on top of each other all the time, so finding some space to be alone is a luxury, especially for city dwellers.
Yet, in this survey, in the open question section about what kind of future services they would like to see, some said "buffet restaurants for solo customers," and "casual restaurants specifically for solo customers" - indicating that there is a need for a specific destination for people to go solo, as opposed to going solo into venues meant for families and groups. Perhaps this is very typical of the Japanese who like to be like the others and not stand out. (I do not believe this is because they want to go to these places to meet other singles or solos.)