Japan Retail Sales Rise for 11th Consecutive Month

Updated on
  • Spending at shops rose for an 11th month in September
  • Demand from inbound tourism supported department store sales

Shoppers in Musashino, Tokyo.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japanese spent more at retail stores last month, but that may not have been enough to cause a seventh-straight quarter of private consumption growth.

Highlights

  • Retail sales rose 2.2 percent in September from a year earlier (forecast +2.3%)
  • Sales climbed 0.8 percent from August (forecast +0.8%)
  • Sales at department stores and supermarkets rose 1.9 percent from a year earlier (forecast +1.5%)

Key Takeaways

The latest data come as the Bank of Japan begins a two-day policy meeting. Though private consumption has been a driver for economic expansion, wage growth has been weak, hurting the central bank’s quest to generate 2 percent inflation and a self-sustaining economic recovery. At its last meeting, the BOJ cautioned that the growth in domestic demand would “likely remain moderate.”

Economist Views

  • “If you look at personal consumption overall, we should see a decrease in the third quarter,” said Hiroaki Muto, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. “That’s partly a rebound from the strong numbers in the second quarter, but also because wages aren’t increasing.”
  • “I think consumption will become something of a brake on the third-quarter numbers,” he said.
  • Private consumption probably fell 0.3 percent in the third quarter from the April-June period, according to Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at Capital Economics in Singapore. “This is not necessarily a disaster,” he wrote, forecasting that spending would expand by just over 1 percent both this year and next.
  • “Overall, household earnings haven’t been growing much,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. “Under those circumstances, consumer spending lacks momentum.”

— With assistance by Isaac Aquino, and Yuko Takeo

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