It’s not looking good for Akihabara’s maid cafes as customers drift away from paying exorbitant prices for cups of coffee where there are no “extras”.
According to a media report, maid cafes started in Akihabara in 2001 and then you get visit on for a drink for a mere ¥500. (These days it is more like double that or more!)
Based on national database figures, there were a mere 132 maid cafes in Akiba at the end of 2011. Since the peak was 282 cafes, this means 150 — over half — have closed.
In the decade the world economy has hardly done so well and Japan in particular is suffering under a recession. (But that has hardly led to otaku desisting from bulk-buying AKB48 CDs.) Maid cafes, though, have high costs because they have many more staff than is necessary.
While it is likely inconceivable that maid cafes will disappear from Akiba, the peak is long gone — and unless maid cafes can adapt and start to offer something new and better, their numbers will surely continue to dwindle.