|Year over Year||1.0%||0.2%||0.4%|
December retail sales were up 0.2 percent from a year ago after increasing 0.5 percent in November. Sales increases have steadily declined since September indicating continued weakness in the consumer sector.
Auto sales dropped for a third month, this time by 2.2 percent on the year. Machinery & equipment dropped 6.1 percent for the subcategory's ninth consecutive decline. Fuel declined for the third month. Fuel sales 4.4 percent after 5.3 percent in November, reflecting lower oil prices. On the plus side, fabrics, apparel & accessories added 3.1 percent on the year and drug & toiletry stores added 4.9 percent.
Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods.
Another way to look at consumer spending in addition to the household spending survey is through the retail sales report. This report gives the total value of goods and services sold each month at retail outlets. The preferred number is the change from the previous year. The report serves as a direct gauge of consumption and consumer confidence. Consumer spending is one of the most important leading indicators for the Japanese economy. Increasing sales signal consumer confidence and economic growth, but higher consumption also leads to inflationary pressures.
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