Household spending fell a real 6.9 percent in August from a year earlier, as people refrained from going on trips during the summer holiday season amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections, government data showed Friday.
Average spending in real terms by households with two or more people stood at ¥276,360 ($2,600), according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
It was the 11th straight monthly fall. The margin of decrease was slightly smaller than the 7.6 percent drop in July, but larger than the 1.2 percent slip in June.
Outlays for domestic and overseas package tours tumbled 87.3 percent, with those for airplane and train tickets also plummeting, by 95.9 percent and 79.0 percent, respectively.
A ministry official told a press briefing the outcome resulted from requests by many local governments for residents not to travel to their hometowns and elsewhere during the Bon holiday period in mid-August, one of Japan's major vacation seasons, in an effort to curb a further virus spread.
The country saw a resurgence of virus infections, with more than 1,500 new cases reported daily from late July to early August.
The official said that the government-subsidized Go To Travel campaign, launched in late July to boost the virus-hit domestic tourism sector, is likely to have contributed to lifting leisure spending "to some extent," but the latest figure was "far weaker than last year."
Among other components, spending on watching movies and theater productions sank 74.9 percent, while that for amusement park visits dipped 72.9 percent. On the other hand, video game software spending soared 79.5 percent as people spent more time at home during the holidays.
Expenditure on drinking at bars and elsewhere outside the home more than halved, dropping by 64.7 percent, and that on dining out fell 33.4 percent.
Outlays for clothing and shoes sagged 20.2 percent, with the official saying that a heatwave across the country apparently suppressed sales of autumn clothes without an increase in summer item sales making up the difference.
Household spending is a key gauge of private consumption and accounts for over half of Japan's gross domestic product, which shrank an annualized real 28.1 percent in the April-June quarter due to the government's state of emergency declaration over the virus from early April through late May.
Spending sank 16.2 percent in May, the sharpest decline since comparable data became available in January 2001, and 11.1 percent in April.
The average monthly income of salaried households with at least two people rose a real 1.2 percent in the reporting month from a year earlier to ¥528,891.
Income has been on the rise for eight months in a row, underpinned by the government's ¥100,000 cash handouts for all households to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic since May.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.