Japan department store sales resume decline

Sales at Japan's department stores fell last month, reversing gains in July, as they were hit by an expanded coronavirus state of emergency.

The Japan Department Stores Association says sales at 191 outlets nationwide dropped 11.7 percent in August from a year earlier. They were down more than 32 percent compared to the same month in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Sales declined for all major items, including food and clothing. Amid a surge in infections, entry to floors selling foodstuffs was restricted to ease overcrowding.

Managers plan to turn things around by focusing on online sales and deliveries of seasonal items and traditional New Year's delicacies.

Association officials say conditions remain tough in September, as the state of emergency continues. They hope that progress in vaccinations will gradually restore normal social and economic activity.