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Economy in Brief

Japan's Sales Wither After a Spike
by Robert Brusca May 29, 2008

Japan’s retail sales have been floundering and in a downtrend since 2005. But in December of 2007 and January of 2008 sales suddenly spiked. They have since settled back down into the sleepy pattern we have been used to. Indeed, sales are weakening sharply in 2008-Q2 after a sales surge in 2008-Q1. Sales spiked to a 3.2% annual rate in Q1 on the back of a 12.7% pace of sales in the auto sector. But in 2008-Q2 sales are starting out quite weak at an annual rate pace of -0.8%. Auto sales are falling at a -2.7% annual rate. Fabric and apparel retail sales are off at a 15.6% pace in the new quarter. The sales boom in Japan appears to have been quite short-lived.

Japan Retail Sales Trends
  Apr-08 Mar-08 Feb-08 3-mo 6-mo 12-mo Yr-Ago Q-to-Date
Total SA -0.1% 0.4% -0.9% -2.4% -0.8% 0.4% -0.8% -0.8%
Not seasonally adjusted
Total: Nominal -0.8% -2.4% 2.4% -3.6% -1.0% 0.1% -3.1% -9.7%
Motor Vehicles 1.6% -1.4% -3.2% -11.5% -2.0% 4.1% -27.8% -2.7%
Food & Beverage -0.5% -0.5% 1.9% 3.8% 1.7% 0.6% 4.6% -1.1%
Fabric apparel & access -2.4% -3.0% 5.0% -2.3% -1.1% -2.5% -6.4% -15.6%
Rest of Retail -1.3% -3.7% 3.5% -6.3% -2.3% -0.7% -0.6% -14.9%
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