Retail Sales Japan

In November 2016, the seasonally adjusted retail sales index in Japan rose slightly by 0.2% month on month, to 104.9 from 104.7 in October 2016.

Published monthly by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Updated till the month of November 2016 (published on January 16th, 2017).

Recent data trend:

Retail sales in Japan continued to advance in November, albeit at a much slower pace than in October. After a seasonal adjustment, retail sales in Japan rose by 0.2% month on month in November, building on the 2.5% gain in October. 

By type of stores, supermarket seems to be doing better lately, their sales is up by 1.1% MoM in November following 1.8% MoM gain in October. In a longer perspective, supermakets has expanded their sales by 6% in the past 4 years, while department store sales is down by 3%. Convenience stores are the winner in the Japanese market, expanding their sales by 21% in the last 4 years. 

Overall, retail sales in Japan seems stable, but stagnant for now. Given the lack of wage growth, there is little reason to expect domestic consumers to start spending. The sharp yen depreciation in the last months may add a precious boost to the imbound tourism consumption, but its glow are likely to fade in the coming years as the extraordinary growth give ways to steady growth.

Brief overview of “Retail sales”

“Retail sales” is published as a part of “Current survey of commerce”, a survey published monthly by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It is a comprehensive survey on retail activities in Japan and it correlates well to the overall private consumption trend in Japan. According to the statistics, retail sales totaled in 137.6 trillion yen in Japan in 2012. By type of retail stores, food and beverage accounts for 32.0% of the total, followed by motor vehicles (12.1%), fuels (9.8%) and general merchandise (9.2%). Comparative figures in the U.S. retail sales in 2012 were 14.5% for food and beverage, 20.3% for motor vehicles, 12.7% for gasoline station and 15.1% for general merchandise. Retail sales in Japan peaked in 1997 at 146.3 trillion yen before it started a sharp decline to 132.3 trillion yen in 2003. It was a period of time when Japan faced the first nationwide financial crisis since WWII. Since 2003, retail sales seem to be on a moderate recovery path with a brief setback in 2010 amid the great global recession.

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YoY% change in retail sales

 Source: METI,  JMA

Sales of chain retail stores by type

Source: METI,  JMA

The Next Release Date:  January 30th, 2017 (Preliminary December data) 

                                  February 13th, 2017(Revised December data)