Japan May retail sales rise 2.0 percent, fall short of expectations

FILE PHOTO: A child reaches for a pair of shoes at a shoe store on a shopping street in Tokyo

By Minami Funakoshi and Izumi Nakagawa

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese retail sales rose less than expected in May because of slower sales of durable goods and clothes, falling substantially on April’s annual increase as demand ebbed.

Retail sales rose 2.0 percent in May from a year ago, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed on Thursday, versus 3.2 percent in April and undershooting the median estimate of 2.6 percent growth in a Reuters poll. Norio Miyagawa, senior economist at Mizuho Securities, said May’s sales of food and clothing were also weak. “I don’t think consumer spending is rising that much overall,” he said.

But in a show of confidence in the recovering economy, the Bank of Japan upgraded its assessment of private consumption for the first time in six months at its June meeting, when it kept monetary policy steady.

The government has also raised its overall view of the economy for the first time in six months because of the growth in private consumption.

(Reporting by Izumi Nakagawa; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Eric Meijer)