RTTNews - Retail sales in Japan fell in June for the tenth consecutive month, mainly reflecting a decline in sales of merchandise goods and clothing, an official report showed Wednesday.

Data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed that retail sales dropped 3% year-on-year in June, faster than a 2.7% drop in the preceding month. Total sales dropped to JPY 10.65 trillion from JPY 10.74 trillion yen in the preceding month.

During the month, retail sales from most industries showed a decline, with the exception of machinery and transport equipment, which rose 0.8%. The steepest drop in sales was from merchandise stores, declining 6.6%, followed by a 5.7% drop in sales of fabric, apparels and accessories.

Meanwhile, sales of large retailers also dropped further in June, by an adjusted 6.7%, quicker than a 6.5% fall in May and above economists' expectations for a 6% drop. On an unadjusted basis, sales fell 5.1% compared to a 4.5% fall in the previous month, reflecting the 11th consecutive month of drop after a 0.2% rise in July last year.

Wholesale sales were down 28.8% annually in June to JPY 29.9 trillion, slower than a 30.3% fall in the preceding month. Wholesale sales have been falling continuously since October last year. Further, total commercial sales dropped 23.4%, after a 24.3% decline in the previous month, and marked the 9th consecutive month of fall since October last year.

Similarly, sales from convenience stores showed a decline in June, a report by the Japanese Franchise Association showed earlier in the month. According to the group, this was the first decline since April last year. Total sales fell 2.3% year-on-year to JPY 605.91 billion, after rising 1% in May.

Further, nationwide department stores showed continued falls in sales in June, the Japan Department Stores Association said on July 21. Sales, after adjusting for the number of stores, fell 8.8% year-on-year in June, after a 12.3% drop in the preceding month.

In contrast to the weakness in retail sales, the consumer confidence improved in June, for the sixth straight month. Official data showed that households' consumer confidence increased to 37.6 from 35.7 in May.

Adding to the positive news, the Cabinet Office said on July 24 that there were some signs of recovery in the Japanese economy, boosted by the government's stimulus measures. However, it noted that there were still several risks to the revival in the form of deflation, rising unemployment and continued slowdown in the overseas economies.

Earlier in the day, Japan's Ministry of Finance also upgraded its economic assessment for the regional economy. This is the first time the ministry has raised its view since April 2004.

The ministry raised the assessment for 10 of the nation's 11 regions. In its latest quarterly report, the ministry however, said conditions in Okinawa remain severe.

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