Japan department stores sales struggle to recover

Sales at Japan's department stores surged last month from a year earlier. But they were still far below pre-pandemic levels as consumers continued to stay home.

The Japan Department Stores Association says sales rose by over two and half times in April from a year ago. That was based on the results from 192 stores.

The big jump was largely because most stores had to reduce hours or close temporarily last year under the first state of emergency.

Compared to the same period two years ago, before the pandemic, sales were still off by almost 28 percent.

The situation is likely to remain challenging going into the summer gift season. Some stores hope to spur business in new ways, such as live sales online.