February supermarket sales gain 1.5% to ¥965.5 billion

JIJI

Sales at supermarkets in February rose 1.5 percent from a year earlier on a same-store basis, up for the first time in three months, an industry group said Monday.

Total sales at 9,174 outlets run by 59 companies came to ¥965.5 billion, the Japan Chain Stores Association said.

The rise reflected higher vegetable prices raised by supply shortages caused by heavy snow and last-minute demand for food, electronics and furniture before Tuesday’s sales tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent.

Sales of food and household goods, including sundries, grew 2.6 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, while sales of clothing dropped 7.5 percent.

The surge in demand took place slightly earlier than in 1997, when the consumption tax was raised to 5 percent from 3 percent, senior association official Atsushi Inoue said.