Japan's household spending in May sank a record 16.2 percent from a year earlier as the government's stay-at-home request under the nationwide state of emergency, then in force over the coronavirus pandemic, dampened consumption, government data showed Tuesday.
It was the sharpest decline since comparable data first became available in January 2001, setting a record for the second month in a row following an 11.1 percent drop in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.
Spending in real terms by households with two or more people averaged ¥252,017 ($2,300), down for the eighth consecutive month since October last year, when the consumption tax rate was raised from 8 percent to 10 percent.
A ministry official told reporters that spending on activities such as leisure and eating out shrank significantly due to the state of emergency initially declared in April.
Under the emergency declaration, which was completely lifted on May 25, authorities requested that people refrain from nonessential outings and that businesses suspend their operations. The measures dealt a heavy blow to the world's third-biggest economy.
The pace of the virus' spread, which had slowed, has again picked up in recent days. A rebound in the number of new confirmed cases in some areas such as Tokyo is raising concerns that a second wave of infections may have begun to sweep some areas.
The end of the state of emergency and related distancing measures, as well as the ¥100,000 per person government cash handouts that started in May, should serve to blunt the economic blow dealt by the virus, a ministry official said.
The drop in house hold spending also comes after a one-time surge in spending was sparked by an unprecedented 10-day holiday period in early May last year to celebrate the accession of Japan's new emperor.
By category, spending on cultural related activities and recreation plunged 37.9 percent from a year before, becoming the biggest contributor to the overall decrease, with those for domestic and overseas package tours plummeting 95.4 percent.
Among other categories, spending on movies and theater productions, and amusement parks plummeted 96.7 percent, and 96.2 percent, respectively.
Spending on eating out more than halved, dropping by 55.8 percent, while the amount spent on drinking at bars and elsewhere outside the home nosedived 88.4 percent.
After adjusting for inflation, the average monthly income of salaried households with at least two people was up 9.8 percent in May from a year earlier at ¥502,403.
Household spending is a key indicator of private consumption, which accounts for more than half of Japan's gross domestic product.
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