The nation's economy is less likely to suffer a painful whiplash from a sales tax increase scheduled for October, early sales figures for autos and apartments suggest.

Demand for cars and houses hasn't picked up noticeably in the run-up to the 2 percentage point tax bump so far, indicating that purchases are less likely to plunge afterward. During the previous hike in 2014, the economy contracted after consumer spending surged ahead of the increase and plunged afterward.

Avoiding an economic shock from the tax increase is a priority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he tries to keep a vulnerable economy expanding despite smoldering trade tensions between the U.S. and China, a slump in global tech demand and deteriorating sentiment at home. To that end, the government has announced a range of measures to offset the economic effects of the hike.