Japan's retail sales fell more than expected in August for the sixth straight month of annual declines due to falling sales of clothes and home appliances - keeping policymakers under pressure to find ways of beefing up household spending.
Retail sales fell 2.1 percent in August from a year earlier, more than a median market forecast for a 1.8 percent annual decline, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed on Thursday.
The weak reading underscores the relative fragility in Japan's economy, with slow wage growth and gloomy prospects of recovery weighing on household spending.
"I don't expect consumer spending to continue falling but future gains are likely to be very modest," said Hiroaki Muto, economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.
"The government has already got the stimulus package it wanted. We need to see more incoming data to determine if the situation is bad enough to force the Bank of Japan to lower its assessment of consumption."