Department Store Sales Up 20.4% in Feb.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Department store sales surged 20.4% in February from a year before on a same-store basis, up for the 12th consecutive month, the Japan Department Stores Association said Thursday.

The rise was supported by strong sales linked to Valentine’s Day and of ehomaki seasonal sushi rolls. Sales of duty-free goods, a measure of purchases by foreign visitors to Japan, more than quadrupled.

Sales of women’s jackets and blouses were robust, with the approach of graduation and school entrance ceremonies in the spring. The relaxing of mask-wearing guidelines led to a rise in cosmetics sales.

Sales of department stores in locations outside Tokyo and nine other major cities grew 13.2%.

The Japan Chain Stores Association separately said that supermarket sales in February dropped 2.0% from a year before, the first decline in eight months. Food sales fell 1.7%, affected by a string of price increases.