Japan’s retail sales gained at the fastest pace in more than a decade in February as the economic recovery spread to households.While the 4.2% year over year jump is against a collapsed low, the fact that the Japanese consumer has come back to near pre-crisis spending levels is encouraging for any lasting recovery.
Sales rose 4.2 percent from a year earlier, the Trade Ministry said today in Tokyo. That was the biggest monthly jump since March 1997, when they advanced 12.4 percent, according to Bloomberg data. The median estimate of 12 economists surveyed was for a 1.6 percent climb.
An export-fueled recovery and government stimulus spending are beginning to create jobs and support wages, improving prospects for companies including Dydo Drinco Inc. A turnaround in employment will continue to support consumer spending, according to economist Julian Jessop.
From a month earlier, retail sales unexpectedly climbed 0.9 percent, the second consecutive gain. None of the eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predicted an increase, and their median estimate was for a 1.2 percent drop.
Consumer confidence advanced for a second month in February, led by sentiment about employment, a sign households may boost outlays in coming months as fears of being fired recede. Japan’s economy added the most jobs in more than three decades in January, unexpectedly sending the unemployment rate to a 10- month low of 4.9 percent. Workers’ pay declined at the slowest pace in 19 months.