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Retail sales fell 2.4 percent in May from a year earlier to 10.42 trillion yen, underscoring bearish business conditions in the sector, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Thursday.

The outcome marked the 26th straight monthly decrease. Sales by wholesalers shrank 0.1 percent to 35.30 trillion yen, METI said in a preliminary report.

As a result, the combined wholesale and retail sales in May dropped 0.7 percent to 45.72 trillion yen, the second drop in a row.

A METI official said, “The economy is weakening,” leaving the assessment unchanged for the 13th straight month.

Sluggish sales of clothing and accessories due to bad weather in the second half of May partly contributed to the drop in both wholesale and retail sales, the official said.

Sales by large retailers — supermarkets and department stores — contracted 1.2 percent to 1.75 trillion yen for the third straight monthly dip.

Supermarket sales in May totaled 1.04 trillion yen, unchanged from a year earlier. But department store sales lost 2.9 percent to 711.9 billion yen, posting the ninth consecutive monthly drop.

Soft demand for clothing and accessories was also blamed for the drop in department store sales. The official said bad weather was to blame for a decline in the number of department store customers.

Convenience store sales grew 1.1 percent to 587.9 billion yen from a year earlier, marking the 10th straight rise.

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