• Kyodo News

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Department store sales dropped 5.7 percent in January from a year earlier on a same-store basis, representing the 23rd consecutive month of decline.

Japan Department Store Association said Thursday that sales for the month came to ¥570 billion.

The pace of decline stayed in the 5 percent range for the second consecutive month as consumer anxiety over the course of the economy was somewhat mitigated by a range of factors, including the effects of stimulus measures such as the Eco-point system and tax breaks for energy-efficient cars, the association said.

Another factor helping ease consumer worries was the Diet’s passage in December of the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2009, it said.

Sales of pricey items, including artwork, jewelry and precious metals, which have long been in decline, rebounded in January to nearly identical levels as the year before, with the fall in sales limited to 0.4 percent.

Clothing sales dropped 8.5 percent, marking the 31st straight month of decline.

Food sales fell 3.0 percent for the 12th consecutive monthly fall, while sales of household appliances such as home electronics and furniture dropped 4.1 percent for the 26th consecutive monthly decline.

Under the Eco-point program, the government rewards purchases of environmentally friendly consumer electronics with points that can be used to buy other products and services. The tax breaks for car purchases apply to vehicles that have cleared pollution standards.

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