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Consumers continued to rein in their spending in April as the nation’s total sales slipped 2.9 percent from a year before to 45.657 trillion yen, the 22nd month of consecutive decline, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said Tuesday.

A survey released by the ministry shows wholesale sales falling 3.3 percent from a year earlier to 34.21 trillion yen, a record 19th month of consecutive decline.

Retail sales were down 1.8 percent from 12 months earlier to 11.45 trillion yen, a record 25th monthly fall.

Despite the slumping figures, a ministry official reckoned that the retail sector may start picking up soon. He cited April’s “comparably small” year-on-year sales decline. The decline slowed because sales of minicars, fuel and food and drinks heated up during the month.

The official also noted that while wholesale sales continued to decline, volume actually increased — the first rise in 25 months — though it was offset by a 3.5 percent slip in wholesale prices.

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