Japan’s consumer confidence in October rose to its highest level in almost two and a half years, as a sharp fall in COVID-19 infections in the nation led the government to fully lift its state of emergency, government data showed Friday.
The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households made up of two or more people climbed 1.4 points from September to 39.2, the highest since 39.5 was logged in May 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Cabinet Office.
The index, which gives an indication of consumers’ economic expectations for the coming six months, increased for the second straight month. A reading below 50 suggests pessimists outnumber optimists.
The Cabinet Office upgraded its basic assessment for the first time in four months, saying consumer sentiment “continues to pick up.” Until the previous month, it had said that consumer confidence “remains in a severe situation, but continues to pick up.”
After a resurgence of COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant, Japan has seen a clear downtrend in infections since around the beginning of September amid progress in its vaccine rollout, with the government’s virus emergency lifted across the country on Oct. 1.
Under the emergency, covering 21 out of Japan’s 47 prefectures at one point and effective since mid-July for Tokyo, people were asked to stay at home while restaurants and bars were requested to stop serving alcohol and close early.
“This is just a survey on (consumers’) sentiment, but actual consumption will likely increase if the subsided virus situation continues,” a government official told reporters.
Conducted between Oct. 7 and 20, the survey covered 8,400 households, including 2,688 single-member households, with valid responses received from 7,134, or 84.9%.
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