Japanese retail sales continued to contract in April, falling 0.8% from the levels of a year earlier.
On an annualised basis, sales have now fallen in five of the past six months.
Although another underwhelming performance, the figure was an improvement on the 1.1% decline registered in March and bettered expectations for a steeper contraction of 1.2%.
With retail sales remaining weak, it is little wonder than the Japanese government is said to be considering a delay to its proposed sales tax increase which is scheduled to be implemented in April 2017.
In April 2014 the government increased Japan’s sales tax from 5% to 8%, stipulating at the time that it would increase to 10% by October 2015, a decision it subsequently delayed to April 2017.
According to reports from Reuters over the weekend, citing a government spokesperson, prime minister Shinzo Abe plans to delay the increase to October 2019, some four years later than originally scheduled.
Previously Abe has pledged to raise the sales tax unless there was a financial crisis similar to the Lehman collapse or a major natural disaster.