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Economy in Brief

Japan Retail Sales Remain Sour
by Robert Brusca July 29, 2009

Japan retail sales fell in June but June caps a three-month period in which sales have expanded. Still, in the quarter-to-date Japan’s retail sales are falling but only slightly.

Over 12-months retail sales are off by about 3%, led by declines in fabric and apparel and the rest of retail which dropped by 4.2%. Auto sales are only off by 0.5% Yr/Yr. Food and beverage sales are off by 1.2%. Sales at department stores and supermarkets slipped 6.7% on the year, and after those figures are adjusted for the number of stores (same-store sales), sales posted their 15th straight monthly decline, according to METI.

This is hardly a robust picture of activity yet today the MoF upgraded its assessment of Japan’s economy for the first time in five years. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. The government's massive stimulus measures, which include tax-cut programs such as incentives to buy new cars, may help to boost retail sales in the future. For now the consumer is in the doldrums and spending habits remain subdued. Leading indicators for Japan have not turned the corner to signal positive trends yet.

Japan Retail Sales Trends
  Jun-09 May-09 Apr-09 3-mo 6-mo 12-mo Yr-Ago Q-to-Date
Total SA -0.3% 0.1% 0.7% 2.1% -1.6% -2.9% 1.2% -0.3%
Not seasonally adjusted                
Total: Nominal -0.5% 0.5% 0.3% 1.1% -0.8% -3.0% 0.7% -0.7%
  Motor Vehicles -1.9% -4.1% 7.5% 4.7% -5.7% -0.5% -3.2% 3.0%
  Food& Beverage -1.4% 2.0% -1.0% -2.0% -3.7% -1.2% 14.8% -1.0%
  Fabric apparel& access -4.5% 1.4% 1.5% -6.5% -1.0% -5.7% -6.6% 2.5%
  Rest of Retail 1.1% 0.4% -0.7% 3.5% 2.3% -4.2% -5.0% -1.9%
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