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Sales at supermarkets and department stores fell in July from a year earlier on a same-store basis for the fifth straight month, according to industry data released Tuesday.

Supermarket sales fell 1.9 percent to 1.23 trillion yen, the Japan Chain Stores Association said in a preliminary report covering 8,308 stores operated by 97 supermarket chains.

Meanwhile, sales at department stores dipped 1.3 percent to 761.31 billion yen, according to a preliminary report by the Japan Department Stores Association covering 286 outlets run by 98 department store operators.

The chain-stores association attributed the overall sales decline to sluggish sales of vegetables, chicken and imported beef, which more than offset sales gains in clothing and other food items.

Supermarket sales of food, which account for 57.4 percent of total sales, dropped 1.4 percent to 702.91 billion yen. Sales of household products fell 3 percent to 252.81 billion yen, while those of clothing edged up 0.2 percent to 172.15 billion yen.

A continued decline in supermarket sales was attributed to the psychological effect on consumers of a new tax-inclusive pricing plan that took effect April 1, a spokesman at the chain stores association said.

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