26 October 2001, 10:11  Japan METI maintains retail sales assessment despite decline in all

TOKYO (FWN) - The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it maintains its assessment that retail sales are weak, even though all sectors fell in September, the first time this has been seen in the past 33 months. "Generally, demand has not changed dramatically. We tend to change our assessment here more carefully than for industrial production," a ministry official said. Large-store retail sales fell 0.6 pct year-on-year in September after declining by a revised 3.2 pct in August, while overall sales dropped 2.9 pct, from 3.8 pct. For the third quarter to September, large store retail sales fell 2.3 pct year-on-year, compared with a decline of 2.9 in the second quarter. Fuel- and auto-sector sales declined in September, after rising last month. Fuel sales fell 0.3 pct year-on-year on falling petrol consumption due to the rise in use of small cars and a drop in prices, while auto sales fell 0.7 pct as purchases of new models reached its peak. Household electric equipment continued to show negative growth, falling 9.8 pct, partly as consumers waited for the release of MicrosoftCorp's latest computer operating system. "Ahead of the launch of Windows XP, it seems consumers decided to wait before buying new PCs in September," the official said. The Sept 11 attacks on the US had a negative impact on consumption sentiment in Japan "but because of some cancellation of overseas travel, it seems that it pushed up domestic consumption somewhat," he added.

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