Tokyo’s key consumer price gauge fell 0.9 percent in August from a year earlier for a record 35th consecutive monthly drop, the government said Friday in a preliminary report.

The latest decline in the consumer price index for Tokyo’s 23 wards underlies the nation’s unabated deflationary trend; consumer prices in Tokyo are regarded as the leading indicator of prices nationwide.

The Tokyo CPI, excluding volatile prices for perishable foods, came to 98 against the 2000 base of 100, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said.

Although the year-on-year slide continues, the reading is up 0.2 percent from the previous month’s figure.

Including perishables, the Tokyo CPI dropped 0.9 percent from a year earlier to 98.1, for a record 36th month of fall, while posting a 0.3 percent increase from the previous month, the ministry said.

Contributing to the decline were housing rents, down 0.8 percent from a year earlier, electricity, down 5.6 percent, educational and entertainment durable goods, such as personal computers, down 13.9 percent, and household durable goods such as air conditioners, down 9.3 percent, the ministry said.

A ministry official said prices of desktop PCs fell 21 percent, notebook PCs dropped 28 percent, while air conditioner prices slipped 17.6 percent.

Prices of hamburgers at fast-food chains fell 8.1 percent from the previous month as McDonald’s Co. (Japan) returned to a cut-rate policy it had terminated in February, slashing the price of its regular hamburgers to 59 yen from 80 yen on Aug. 5, the official said.

But hamburger prices rose 11.7 percent from a year earlier because McDonald’s and other chains also cut prices last year, he added.

Food prices fell 0.2 from a earlier year after rising 0.1 percent in July, but those of fresh foods rose 0.7 percent following a 1.9 percent rise the previous month.

The nationwide CPI, excluding perishables, fell 0.8 percent in July from a year earlier to 98.3, for the 34th straight month of decline, while showing a 0.2 percent decline from the previous month.

Including perishables, the nationwide CPI dropped 0.8 percent from a year ago to 98.2, for the 35th consecutive fall, while registering a 0.4 percent fall from the previous month.

Retail sales off 5.3%

Retail sales in Japan fell 5.3 percent in July from a year earlier for the 16th consecutive month of decline, with sales at convenience store chains down for the first time on record, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday in a preliminary report.

Retail sales dropped to 11.28 trillion yen following a 3.8 percent decline in June. The ministry said the decline was partly attributable to unstable weather dampening sales of summer clothing and air conditioners.

Sales by wholesalers shed 2.1 percent to 36.87 trillion yen, down for the 18th straight month, it said.

Combined sales by retailers and wholesalers fell 2.9 percent to 48.15 trillion yen, down also for the 18th straight month.

The ministry stuck to its assessment that retail sales are on a weakening trend.

Given the slack consumption, convenience store chains suffered their first sales decline since data become available in April 1998 on an unadjusted basis, down 1.6 percent to 639.5 billion yen.

On a same-store basis, convenience store sales lost 5.2 percent for the 24th consecutive monthly dip.

The recent slowdown in the chains’ efforts to offset the falls at existing stores with the launch of new stores is behind the July downturn in the total value of convenience store sales, a METI official said.

Sales by large retailers meanwhile fell 5.7 percent on a same-store basis, down for the 51st consecutive month, with supermarket sales down 5.7 percent, also for the 51st straight fall, and department store sales down 5.6 percent for the fourth successive slip, METI said.

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