Japan’s Retail Sales Fall 4.4%

Japan’s retail sales fell 4.4 percent in April on year as a rise in the country’s consumption tax that month weighed on spending, data on Thursday showed.

The number compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a fall of 3.3 percent and marked the fastest annual decline since an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Japan’s sales tax rose to 8 percent from 5 percent at the start of April to help alleviate the country’s huge debt burden.  The hike is expected to weigh on economic activity in the second quarter of the year, but analysts say there are signs that the economy is holding up relatively well.


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