Japanese consumer confidence in March improved for a fourth straight month, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday.
The survey's sentiment index for general households, which includes views on incomes and jobs, was at 41.7 in March, up from a revised 40.9 in February.
The Cabinet Office upgraded its view on consumer confidence, saying it is picking up.
The survey began in 1982. "General households" are those with two or more people.
Major retail groups in Japan such as Seven & I Holdings Co. plan to beef up their online operations to meet growing demand.
As the nation's demographics shift and more women enter the workforce, demand for internet ordering and home delivery is "expanding rapidly", according to an official at supermarket operator Seiyu GK.
Japanese women jostled feverishly for elbow room at stores on Friday to buy Valentine's Day chocolates for the men in their lives – guys who do sweet nothing in return.
While the ladies splurge on the object of their desire – as well as friends, colleagues and bosses – men simply wait for the goodies to pour in on 14 February and gorge to their heart's content.
It's a far cry from the Western version of Valentine's Day with its saucy commercials featuring handsome hunks swooping in to leave a box of chocolates on a lover's bed.
Japan's retail sales rose for a sixth straight month in December, providing evidence of a gradual recovery in private consumption as the economy climbs out of recession.
The 0.2 percent year-on-year sales growth fell short of a 0.9 percent gain seen by economists in a Reuters poll, following a revised 0.5 percent rise in November, data by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) showed on Thursday.
Japan's consumer confidence improved for the first time in five months in December, the government said on Monday, suggesting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to postpone the second stage of the consumption tax hike has eased fears about Japan's economic outlook.
The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households of two or more people rose 1.1 points from a month earlier to 38.8, the Cabinet Office said.
The Japanese spent more than they saved in the 12 months ended March 2014, the first time that's happened since the data set began in 1955, with the savings rate at a negative 1.3 percent in the last fiscal year.
"It's something to keep an eye out for in the medium-term because Japan's debt has been funded domestically, and very cheaply. But foreign investors would require a more appropriate risk premium," said Toru Yamamoto, Daiwa' Securities chief rates strategist.
Japanese consumer inflation slowed further in September, official data showed on Friday, adding to concerns about Tokyo's war on deflation.
The nation's core consumer inflation, stripping out volatile fresh food prices, came in at 3.0 percent year-on-year, down from 3.1 percent in August, the internal affairs ministry said.
Prices rose from year-earlier levels largely because the government raised sales tax from 5.0 percent to 8.0 percent on 1 April, which drove up retail prices.
Japan's retail sales rose at their fastest pace since the first quarter in September as investors began to shake off the effects of a consumption tax hike.
Retail sales rose 2.3 percent on year in September, above expectations for a 0.6 percent rise in a Reuters poll and up from a 1.2 percent rise in August, data showed on Tuesday. It marked the highest retail sales reading since March.
In April, the government raised the consumption tax to 8 percent from 5 percent to rein in the country's budget-to-GDP ratio. It was the first tax hike in 17 years.
Japan's supermarket sales fell 1.0 percent in September from a year earlier on a same-store basis, declining for the sixth consecutive month following the April consumption tax hike, an industry body said on Tuesday.
Sales at 9,262 stores operated by 60 supermarket chains totalled JPY1.016 trillion (USD9.54 billion), according to the Japan Chain Stores Association.
Japanese consumer confidence worsened for a second straight month in September, a Cabinet Office survey showed on Friday, suggesting the damage inflicted by the sales tax hike in April is lasting longer than expected.
The survey's sentiment index for general households, which includes views on incomes and jobs, was at 39.9 in September, down from 41.2 in August.