TOKYO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Department store sales in Japan in 2019 fell 1.4 percent compared to the previous year, down for the second straight year, the Japan Department Stores Association said Wednesday.
According to the industry body, sales on a same-store basis last year stood at 5.75 trillion yen (52.29 billion U.S. dollars).
Sales at stores in 10 major cities including Tokyo and Osaka decreased 0.8 percent and those in other regions fell 2.8 percent.
The numbers were affected by the Oct. 1 consumption tax hike, bad summer weather and a warm winter, the association said.
"Some large stores in big cities are seeing positive signs, but sales at stores in local regions have yet to recover as they face a declining population and aging society," said Shigeki Yamazaki, executive director of the association.
Although a large amount of last-minute buying ahead of the consumption tax hike was recorded, it was offset by the decline in sales as well as sluggish clothing sales due to unfavorable weather conditions, association officials said.
Closing sales dropped 4.0 percent as consumers bought less winter clothing amid a warm winter, while fresh food sales fell 3.3 percent.
Duty-free sales, rising 2.0 percent to a record high of 346.1 billion yen (3.15 billion U.S. dollars) last year, remain a bright spot amid an increase in foreign tourists.