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Spending by wage-earning households fell a real 1.8 percent in May from a year earlier for the eighth consecutive month of decline, the government said Friday.

It was first time since 1993 spending has fallen for eight straight months, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

Wage-earning households spent an average of 307,078 yen.

The average monthly income of such households slipped 2.3 percent in real terms to 429,663 yen, down for the 14th consecutive month. Spending fell 1 percent in April from the previous year.

However, disposable income was up a real 0.3 percent to 341,005 yen.

Personal spending accounts for about 60 percent of gross domestic product, and wage-earning households’ outlays make up 60 percent of that.

Spending on food, including alcoholic beverages, fell a real 2.9 percent, with “happoshu” outlays plunging 23.5 percent.

Spending on dining out declined for the seventh straight month, said Masato Aida, head of the ministry’s Consumer Statistics Division.

Spending on learning and entertainment services dropped a real 4.3 percent, with that on overseas package tours plummeting a nominal 51.7 percent and domestic package tours slipping a nominal 13.3 percent, Aida said.

“The fall in spending on package tours is believed to be due to the effects of SARS,” Aida said.

Spending on housing increased a real 1.9 percent due to an increase in demand for renovations, he said.

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