Sales at big stores in Tokyo drop 1%

Sales at department stores in Tokyo’s 23 wards fell 1 percent in March from a year earlier to 193.63 billion yen, the first decrease in three months, the Japan Department Stores Association said in a preliminary report.

The association attributed the fall in sales to weak demand for seasonal clothing because of relatively warm weather. But as sales in the January-March quarter increased 0.7 percent for the second consecutive quarterly gain, an association official said sales are “improving in general, but lack stability.”

The sales figures, released Monday, cover 30 outlets run by 16 department store chains.

Sales of clothing, the largest sales category, contracted 3.8 percent to 75.52 billion yen for the first fall in three months, with sales of men’s clothing dropping 11.6 percent.

Sales of food, the second-biggest category, rose 0.8 percent to 33.08 billion yen, up for the third consecutive month. Sales of miscellaneous goods rose 0.8 percent to 32.24 billion yen.