Households increased their spending for the first time in four months in December, with more expenditure on electric appliances. An extra national holiday in the reporting month compared with a year earlier also played a role.
Spending by households with two or more people rose 0.1 percent from a year earlier to ¥329,271 ($3,000), according to data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Expenditure increased on so-called white goods such as refrigerators and washing machines, as well as new cars, mobile phones, clothing and footwear, according to the data. Spending on utilities and food decreased, however.
Household spending is a key indicator of private consumption, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of gross domestic product.
After adjusting for inflation and including the winter bonus, the average income of salaried households with at least two people was ¥1,026,628, an increase of 2.3 percent in real terms compared to the same period the previous year.
For the whole of 2018, average monthly spending by households with two or more members declined 0.4 percent from the previous year to ¥287,315, the fifth straight year of decline.
Spending decreased 1.5 percent on food such as fish and vegetables, 1.6 percent on clothing and by 2.4 percent on entertainment.
“Annual (spending) data basically saw a downward trend as the number of households continues to decline,” as a result of the country’s graying population, said a ministry official who briefed reporters.