Japan's department-store sales up for 11th month

The new-year holiday and a return of tourists from overseas were behind double-digit growth in Japan's department-store sales in January. It was the 11th consecutive month of increase.

The Japan Department Stores Association puts the number at 430 billion yen, or about 3.2 billion dollars. That's up 15.1 percent in yen terms from a year earlier.

An easing of coronavirus guidelines encouraged consumers to head out and shop during the new-year period. Sales of fresh food rose for the first time in five months. Sweets were in demand as gifts. Winter coats also sold well.

The number of foreign travelers visiting the retailers marked a 20-fold increase from the year before. Tax-free shopping surged by around 330 percent.

The association says sales have recovered close to the pre-pandemic level in 2019. The stores are also hoping that Chinese travelers will return soon in large numbers.