Combined sales at retailers and wholesalers in 2013 rose 0.9 percent from the previous year to ¥466.18 trillion, up for the first time in two years, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Thursday.
Retail sales grew 1.0 percent to ¥138.91 trillion, reflecting hikes in the prices of vegetables and fuel.
Food and beverage sales went up 1.4 percent and fuel sales increased 3.5 percent. On the other hand, automobile sales fell 1.4 percent, affected by the end of government subsidies for eco-friendly vehicles, and sales of machinery and appliances sagged 1.2 percent amid slumping sales of flat-panel television sets.
Wholesale sales increased 0.8 percent to ¥327.27 trillion, buoyed by brisk sales of construction materials stemming from a recovery in housing sales.
In December alone, combined sales at retailers and wholesalers rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier to ¥43.9 trillion, up for the eighth straight month.
Of the total, retail sales grew 2.6 percent, lifted by a 14.2 percent jump in automobile sales amid a rush in demand ahead of the consumption tax hike this April.
Wholesale sales in the month were up 3.1 percent.