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Earnings from sales at Japan’s supermarkets and department stores continued their year-on-year fall in February due to price declines and slow winter clearance sales, industry associations said Monday.

The Japan Chain Stores Association said supermarket sales fell 4.8 percent to 1.02 trillion yen on a same-store basis.

The decline represents the 39th consecutive monthly fall.

The Japan Department Stores Association said sales at department stores nationwide dropped 4.9 percent to 553.8 billion yen on a same-store basis for the third straight year-on-year decline.

As for supermarkets, an association official said consumer appetite for spring merchandise was spurred by warmer-than-usual weather in February, and the number of customers remained essentially at the same level as a year earlier.

The downward trend of product prices, however, dragged down overall sales.

Sales in the food segment, which accounted for 58.4 percent of overall sales, dropped 2.2 percent, with beef sales continuing to suffer due to the mad cow disease scare and a false labeling scandal.

Sales in the clothing segment, which accounted for 13.3 percent of total sales, logged a 9.1 percent fall, with clearance campaigns for winter clothes failing to generate consumer appetite due to warmer-than-usual weather.

Sales of household products, including electric appliances and furniture, slipped 8.4 percent, with those of refrigerators, air conditioners, television sets and washing machines notably lower than a year earlier.

Sales of those items were high in February last year as consumers were actively replacing old units before a recycling law took effect, placing a financial burden on consumers for disposing old appliances.

Meanwhile, the department stores association said sales during February remained slack due to low demand from corporate customers, and winter product clearance sales also failed to generate much interest.

Sales in the clothing segment marked a 6.7 percent fall — the biggest decline since a 6.9 percent drop in September 1999 — due mainly to the slack winter clearance sales.

Sales of sundry products rose 3.3 percent, helped by active demand for women’s shoes, handbags and accessories, for the 16th consecutive monthly rise.

But those of home products, including furniture, fell a sharp 22.9 percent from a year earlier, the biggest fall since the 40.1 percent decline in March 1998, it said.

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