Business

Japan's supermarket sales fell 1.8% in 2019 amid tax hike

Kyodo

Supermarket sales in 2019 fell 1.8 percent from the previous year on a same-store basis, down for the fourth consecutive year, affected by the consumption tax hike on Oct. 1 and unfavorable weather, an industry body said Thursday.

Sales at 10,550 supermarkets, including newly opened ones, operated by 55 companies totaled ¥12.43 trillion ($113 billion) in 2019, down 4.3 percent, according to the Japan Chain Stores Association. Prolonged rainy days in summer as well as warm temperatures in winter contributed to the decline, it said.

“The negative impact of the tax hike remains strong and consumption may continue to be weak for a long time,” said Atsushi Inoue, a senior official of the association.

Clothing sales decreased 7.1 percent, while sales of food items, which were generally exempted from the 2 percentage-point tax increase from 8 percent, dipped 1.5 percent.

In December alone, supermarket sales dropped 3.3 percent from a year earlier on a same-store basis for the third straight monthly fall, with clothing sales hit by warm temperatures.

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