Japan’s April production and consumption hammered by coronavirus

TOKYO — Japan’s industrial output in April fell 9.1 percent from the previous month, government data showed Friday, as the coronavirus pandemic pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the seasonally adjusted index of production stood at 87.1 against the 2015 base of 100. The result showed the biggest decline since April 2014 and was the third consecutive monthly drop.

Production decreased in a wide swathe of sectors including automobile, steel and transport equipment. Inventories decreased 0.3% to 106.1 and the shipment index dropped 8.8% to 85.0. The inventory ratio, however, rose by 12.7% to 137.4 from the previous month.

Separately, retail sales in April fell 13.7% from a year earlier to 10.9 trillion yen ($101.4 billion), dragged down by weak demand for items such as automobiles and clothes.

Department store sales were hit hard, recording 71.5% drop in April from the previous year as number of overseas visitors to Japan plummeted due to the pandemic. Many of the stores were closed in some areas as the government requested people to stay home as much as possible to reduce infections during a state of emergency.

In contrast, supermarkets saw a 3.6% rise in April, as sales of the food items in particular increased by 12.3% from the previous year.

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