Japanese retail sales were down 3.9 percent on year in March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Tuesday, coming in at 11.723 trillion yen. That was better than analyst expectations for a 4.9 percent annual decline following the 5.8 percent fall on year in February.

Large retailers saw sales decline drop 8.1 percent on year to 1.652 trillion yen. That was slightly worse than analyst expectations for a 7.8 percent annual decline after the 8.2 percent contraction on year in the previous month.

On a monthly basis, retail sales were down 1.1 percent - worse than forecasts for a 0.4 percent decline following the revised 0.2 percent contraction.

For the first quarter of 2009, retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent on year to 32.573 trillion yen. Large-scale retail sales fell an annual 7.2 percent in Q1.

Commercial sales were down an annual 24.0 percent in March to 45.065 trillion yen. They plummeted 20.6 percent in the first quarter to 123,808 trillion yen.

Wholesale sales lost 29.2 percent on year in March to 33,342 trillion yen and fell 25.2 percent in the first quarter to 91.235 trillion yen.

As a result of the data, the METI cut its assessment on retail sales, now calling them decreasing.

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