March 14, 2019

Retail Sales Japan

Japanese consumers in a surprisingly sober mood in the new year

Published monthly by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. Updated till the month of January 2019 (published on March 14th, 2019)

Recent data trend

Japanese retailers had a weak start of the year in 2019. In January, the year on year (YoY) growth of retail sales decelerated to mere 0.6% YoY growth, down from 1.3% YoY in December. On seasonally adjusted terms, retail sales contracted by as much as 1.8% month on month (MoM) in January 2019, the largest contraction in more than 3 years. Coupled with the plummeting exports and industrial production, the particularly weak retail sales tells us that growth cannot be good in the first quarter of 2019.

The sudden drop in Japanese consumers' appetite is puzzling. Except for the sudden rise in financial market volatility toward the end of 2018, there was no apparent reason for Japanese consumers to tighten up their purse in the new year. The labor market remains tight, Japan's fiscal policy is broadly neutral.

Regardless, we do see other evidence that Japanese consumers are starting to become cautious. The consumer confidence index shows a weakening trend since the beginning of 2018. We could imagine that there could be a sense of disappointment among the Japanese public to see no sign of reflation after 6 years of Abenomics, but that would be too economist minded way of viewing the world.


For more information, visit the official government page

The Next Release Date:    March 29th, 2019 (Preliminary February data)

                                        April 15th, 2019 (Final February data)








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