Right after the new year, many shops and departmental stores will have the first sales「初売り」 and lucky bag「福袋」 sales. The original idea of such sales come about due to a belief that there are good luck from the leftover (残り物には福がある). Furthermore, coupled with the superstitious belief that one should not start a year with unwanted goods, it brought about the New Year sales and lucky bag.
初売り(First sales). Wikipedia image by Wkatsuhiro
During the new year sales, goods are given a high discount and shopping can buy lucky bag from the store or these days even online. All lucky bags are packed and sealed, shopper will not know its contain until they bought the bag and open it up.
Shopper are not suppose to open up the bag to see its contain before buying them. Doing so is rude and unethical.
Queue at the New Year Sales. Image from wikimedia by Wkatsuhiro
Usually the value of the items in the lucky bag are of a higher value than the price tag of the lucky bag. Therefore, during the new year sales, it is common to see long queue at the shops and department stores to grab up these bags and enjoy the discount offered by the stores.
Some stores will give out premium tickets in advance for their New years sales. These tickets will give the holder certain percentage of discount or an exclusive invitation to the sales.
Premium ticket from ABC Mart
Such sales and lucky bags are not exclusively to Japan's companies, even Apple has News Year Sales and Lucky bag. Since 2004, the Apple brick and mortar store in Japan has lucky bag sales. Each bag cost around 35,000 yen, the value of items in them exceeded this amount.
Macbook Air in the lucky bag in 2015.Image from Twitter user @taivas2918
Items which are maybe included in the bag are:
- Macbook Air (￥102,800)
- Apple TV (￥18,400)
- Beat earphone (￥20,600 )
- Traveller Charger (￥5,800)
- Mophie powerstation (￥8,800)
- Air Jacket (￥5,400; estimate price.)
From what I can see in the picture, the total value is already ￥161,800 and that hasn't include the bag. It is already far exceeded the price tag of one lucky bag. Of course, this should be the most expensive items in the bag.
All lucky bags are packed with random items, but according to consumers who bought them, most would agree that the item value far exceeded the amount paid for the lucky bag.
If you are in Japan, maybe you want to try your luck? There are 3 stores in Tokyo, of which 2 are in shibuya and 1 is in Ginza.
Latest Update (30 Dec 2015):
It seems like Apple Japan is not going to have the Lucky Bag Sales 2016. Read more here