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Japan’s January retail sees 1.6% uptick, growth slows

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Retail sales in Japan increased 1.6 percent year-on-year in January, after a 3.6 percent gain in the previous month, government data showed.

The result was the slowest increase in three months, missing industry expectations of a 2.1 percent climb.

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The halt was mainly attributed to a decline in apparel and accessories sales, down 0.5 percent compared to a 6.1 percent increase in December 2017.

Unpredictable weather patterns resulted negatively effects sales. Cold weather in the second half of the month may have helped to boost sales of winter items, but snowfall in many parts of the country kept customers away from stores.

General merchandise was down 0.9 percent compared to a 0.1 uptick in December, motor vehicles fell 0.3 percent compared to a 7.6 percent jump in December and machinery sales rose 5.2 percent, missing the prior month’s surge of 8.8 percent

On a positive note, sales of medicine and toiletries expanded 3.4 percent, after rising 1.9 percent in December.

On a monthly basis, retail sales declined 1.8 percent after a 0.9 percent climb in the previous month.

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It was the sharpest monthly fall since November of 2015.

Looking back, retail sales in Japan have averaged 4.63 percent from 1971 until 2018. Sales reached an all time high of 36.5 percent in January 1979 and a record low of -14.30 percent in March of 1998.

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