Japan's retail sales fall for third straight month

By Yoshifumi Takemoto and Daniel Leussink

Japanese retail sales fell for the third straight month in February, government data showed on Tuesday, as households kept a lid on expenditure amid the coronavirus emergency, underscoring the fragile nature of the economy's recovery from last year's slump.

Analysts expect Japan's economy sharply contracted in the first quarter, as lackluster consumer spending and weakening exports create challenges for policymakers who have already rolled out massive stimulus.

Retail sales lost 1.5% in February from a year earlier, a smaller fall than the median market forecast for a 2.8% drop.

But it marked the third straight month of declines following January's 2.4% fall and a 0.2% drop in December.

"That the coronavirus isn't subsiding is a major reason to worry about a delay of an economic recovery," said Atsushi Takeda, chief economist at Itochu Economic Research Institute.

"Clothes aren't selling because people aren't going out," he said. "People are not really returning to commercial facilities, the trend is for them to go shopping at supermarkets in their neighborhoods."

The broader decline in retail sales was driven by falls in spending on items such as clothing, toiletries and general merchandise, the data showed.

Compared with the previous month, retail sales rose 3.1% on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Separate data showed the nationwide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was steady at 2.9%, lower than the median forecast of 3.0%.

There were 1.09 jobs per applicant in February, down from the previous month's 1.10, labor ministry data showed.

The world's third-largest economy is set to contract by an annualised 6.0% in the current quarter, which would be the first decline in three quarters partly due to sagging consumer spending, according to the latest Reuters poll data.

Some analysts are worried that a longer contraction in household spending and weakening exports raise the prospect of a slower economic recovery than initially thought.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

People don’t have money to go out nor do they want to even if they could.

But the Japanese stocks are up, let’s go and eat steak!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many/most people are spending less because they've got LESS TO SPEND! And that's because of the Covid fear-propaganda campaign that is ongoing.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I bet spending on pants is down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bricks and mortar only establishments are clearly in dire trouble, haemorrhaging money like there’s no tomorrow and fated to go the way of the dodo. Online retailers, including secondhand goods sites such as ヤフオク, Mercari, and PayPayフリマーケット, with their minimal overheads, are giving them an absolute hiding. When just about anything you care to name can easily be bought more cheaply online, there’s hardly any point to visiting stores; save perhaps if you absolutely have to have it right now, or if you need to check for size or other details, prior to purchasing online.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites