Japan's retail sales jumped for the second straight month in February, offering a sign the country's economic recovery is broadening to households.
Sales rose 4.2 percent from a year earlier, driven by higher demand for cars, energy and machinery, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Monday. Retail sales rose 2.3 percent in January from a year earlier.
But the gains may not mean that demand is strong enough to reverse dangerous deflationary pressures. The country's core consumer price index fell 1.2 percent in February from a year earlier for the 12th consecutive month of decline.
Before January, retail sales had declined for 15 straight months as the world's second biggest economy struggled to emerge from its worst recession since World War II.
Robust export demand from emerging economies like China is helping Japan grow again but the recovery has been slow to reach workers and families as companies continued to cut costs.
In January, wage declines decelerated and the unemployment rate fell to a 10-month low of 4.9 percent. Growing consumer confidence unexpectedly pushed up retail sales 0.9 percent from a month earlier.
Large-scale retailers, which includes supermarkets and department stores, did not fare as well. Sales fell 4 percent from the previous year after adjusting for a change in the number of stores.
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