• Kyodo News

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Department store sales slipped 12.3 percent in May from a year earlier on a same-store basis, down for the 15th month in a row, an industry group said Friday.

Sales totaled ¥511.26 billion, according to the Japan Department Stores Association. Despite recent signs of a pickup of the economy, department store sales remained sluggish in May with consumers cutting back spending amid the rising jobless rate and a decline in income, it said.

The outbreak of a new influenza also pushed down sales in the Kansai region centering on Osaka, and in the Tokyo metropolitan area, as many consumers shied away from department stores, the association added.

Sales fell in most of the industry’s major merchandise segments in May, with those of clothing slumping 15.1 percent.

Sales in the food segment, which has been relatively immune from the impact of the economic downturn, shrank 5.2 percent from a year before.

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