Combined sales by Japanese retailers and wholesalers slipped 1.2 percent in February from a year before to 42.27 trillion yen, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Tuesday.

A ministry official said sales were smaller in part because the month was a day shorter than the previous February, which contained a leap year day. “The consumption trend is generally unchanged,” the official said.

Retailers’ sales slid 0.6 percent to 10.48 trillion yen, down for the first time in two months. Sales of fabrics, clothes and accessories fell 2.4 percent, but those of household appliances rose 3.1 percent ahead of April’s new recycling law for electrical appliances.

Wholesalers’ sales dropped 1.4 percent to 32.23 trillion yen, down for the first time in five months. Imports of wood fell due to sluggish housing starts, while beef imports from Europe dropped because of a ban imposed by Japan following an outbreak of mad cow disease on the continent.

Sales at large-scale retailers dropped 2.2 percent to 1.59 trillion yen. Department store sales decreased 5.4 percent to 660.3 billion yen, while supermarket sales rose 0.2 percent to 929 billion yen.

Sales at convenience stores grew 2.2 percent to 492.2 billion yen.

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