Japanese retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, underscoring challenges to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to stoke a recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy.
Sales slid 0.3 percent from November for a third straight monthly decline, the trade ministry said Thursday in Tokyo. That compared with the median estimate for a 0.3 percent gain in a Bloomberg News survey. Sales increased 1.7 percent in 2014.
A recovery in consumer spending that was hurt by last year’s sales-tax increase is needed to help spur the economy. Talks between business and labor leaders this spring will determine the extent of pay gains that have so far been too small to offset rising living costs for consumers.
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