Japanese Retail Sales Up On Autos, Further Gains Difficult image

Japan’s retail sales climbed 3.5 percent from a year earlier, the biggest advance since Aug. 2010, Trade and Industry released Thursday showed.

A government subsidy for fuel-efficient cars is helping to boost domestic demand for vehicles.
Motor vehicle sales jumped 21.4 percent following a 24.1 percent rise in January.
Indeed, this was slower than a 24.1 percent rise in the year to January, but marked the second month that sales growth was above 20 percent.

In December, automakers introduced new energy-efficient models that qualify for government subsidies and this is attracting buyers at the start of the year.

Reflecting higher gasoline and heating oil prices, retail sales of fuel gained 4.8% on year in February, maintaining a general uptrend after a rare 0.8% dip in January and a 5.7% rise in December.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s largest automaker said on Thursday its global output rose 28 percent in February from a year earlier to 811,310 vehicles.

The Japanese automaker forecasts sales in its home market will grow 30 percent from a year earlier to 2.32 million units on higher demand for a new small Prius model and its other hybrids after the Japanese government introduced the incentives.

Details were as follows (previous figures may be revised;
economists’ median forecast in parentheses).
Retail sales FEB JAN DEC
year/year +3.5 (+1.3) +1.8 +2.5
month/month +2.0 +3.1 +0.7