Sentiment among Economy Watchers Up in February

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Sentiment among so-called economy watchers in Japan, or people in jobs sensitive to economic trends, improved for the first time in four months in February, a government survey showed Wednesday.

The brighter sentiment reflected increases in event visitors and sales, as well as travel demand, amid the easing of COVID-19 activity restrictions.

In the survey conducted by the Cabinet Office on Feb. 25-28, the seasonally adjusted diffusion index for economy watchers’ sentiment on current economic conditions rose 3.5 points from the previous month to 52.0.

Based on the survey, the Cabinet Office said that the economy is picking up moderately, an upgrade from its January assessment that “the economy is showing signs of rebounding.”

In the February survey, the household-related index grew 4.3 points.

A taxi driver in the Tokai region was quoted as saying that the number of passengers is recovering in line with the resumption of events. There was also a report that sales related to spring events, such as graduation and enrollment ceremonies, are increasing.

The DI for economy watchers’ outlook for the economy two to three months ahead rose 1.5 points to 50.8, amid growing hopes for a recovery in consumer confidence as the government is slated to relax its mask-wearing rules and downgrade the legal classification of COVID-19.

Still, there are concerns about the impact of higher prices. A supermarket worker in the Tohoku region told the survey that as households are squeezed by rising utility bills and food prices, the number of visitors is likely to fall further.