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Japan retail sales post first rise since quake

28 july 2011, 17:35
Japan's retail sales rose in June, marking the first gain since a devastating March earthquake and tsunami in a further signal of recovery in the world's third-biggest economy, AFP reports, citing data Thursday.

Sales rose by 1.1 percent on-year, lifted by purchases of machines, appliances and electronic equipment, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Sales of household appliances and electronic products jumped 15.2 percent, driven in part by the rush of consumers to change to digital TV before the July 24 end of analogue broadcasting in Japan.

Apparel sales were also up 4.1 percent, as were food and beverage sales, which increased 3.2 percent.

However, automobile sales were down 17.3 percent, with consumers deferring purchases and automaker production levels still recovering after post-quake power and parts supply shortages.

Japan adopted a mentality of self-restraint in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which ravaged the northeast coast and left 20,000 dead or missing as well as crippling a nuclear power plant, triggering the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

Convenience stores saw sales of items such as bottled water spike in the aftermath but consumers held off on non-essential purchases, entertainment and travel.

Retail sales fell 8.3 percent in March and 4.8 percent in April, before the decline slowed to a 1.3 percent fall in May.

The drop in consumption helped push the economy back into recession in the first quarter of 2011.

Economists see reconstruction spending in the second half help the economy rebound, however.

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