June commercial sales fell 4.4 percent in volume from the same month a year earlier, due to a slump in corporate demand and to unseasonably bad weather, according to a report released Wednesday by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

Of the total 50.969 trillion yen in monthly turnover, the wholesale industry accounted for 39.856 trillion yen, down 4.6 percent from a year ago, while retail industry sales reached 11.113 trillion yen, down 3.7 percent, the report says.

The decline reflects a prolonged downward market trend since the consumption tax was raised to 5 percent in April last year, MITI officials said.

Sales of wholesalers dealing in agriculture and livestock products increased by 0.4 percent, and those of food and drink dealers saw sales increase by 1.8 percent, thanks to a recent price hike in soft drinks and farm products, the latter due to the bad weather, they said.

Large retailers such as department stores and supermarkets suffered a 1.1 percent drop in sales in June. MITI officials said the prospects for July are bleak despite income tax cuts and summer bonus payments.

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