Japan Retail Sales Fall 9.7% in March

Japan’s retail sales for March plunged 9.7 percent on-year, well below expectations, after last year’s sales were front-loaded as shoppers splurged ahead of a sales-tax increase.

Retail sales were expected to fall 7.3 percent, according to a Reuters poll of 17 analysts. The decline follows February’s 1.8 percent drop.

“If you look at the larger data points of the past three to six months, they’ve been pretty bad all around,” Joe Zidle, a portfolio strategist at Richard Bernstein Advisors, told CNBC. “If you think about the consumer’s importance … it’s 60 percent of the Japanese economy, I think this ratchets up the pressure on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) in order to introduce more stimulus.”