Tokyo, Japan, 27 May 2016MasterCard Advisors, a unit of MasterCard (NYSE: MA) today revealed the results of the April SpendingPulse™ macro-economic report tracking national retail sales in Japan. According to the report, Japan retail sales fell by 4.0 percent month-to-month, but saw a 1.2 percent year-over-year growth. Good weather improved year-over-year sales as did the advent of the Golden Week.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail sales grew by 0.5 percent month-over-month, but fell by 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis. General merchandise, electronics, apparel and accessories and fuel lagged behind total retail’s year-over-year growth. Consumer confidence decreased 0.9 points on a month-to-month basis in April, though a slight increase on wage growth may have improved sales. The economic environment is still challenging suggesting an outlook of low to moderate growth in the coming months.

On a sector basis, the average growth rate of sales volume for general merchandise seen in the last three months was above the average decline seen in the first quarter. A still challenging overall economic environment makes the outlook for the sector weak.

In April, apparel and accessories sales showed a decline on a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis and year-over-year basis, and the average year-over-year decline for the last three months declined even more. Good weather improved sales as did the advent of the Golden Week, however this was not enough to turn sales positive. The challenging economic environment has been helped by a slight increase in wage growth and points to an outlook of modest growth in the coming months.

Electronics sales volumes grew on a seasonally adjusted month-to-month basis, but fell year-over-year in April. Sales in the sector improved in the beginning and end of the month (Golden Week), but slowed in the middle. Modest declines for the sector can be expected in the coming months.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales volume in the fuel sector experienced a slight month-to-month growth. The average decline of the last three months was above the average decline seen in the first quarter. The high volatility of both international oil prices and exchange rates continue to weigh upon the sector. Due to weak prospects for economic growth, even with a slight increase in consumer confidence, the outlook for the sector is one of significant decline in the coming months.

Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President, Market Insights for MasterCard Advisors, said “Overall, we can see that the Japanese consumer remains quite restrained in their spending, and this is especially true when it comes to any type of discretionary spending. Our outlook is that this will continue for the foreseeable future for the Japanese retail economy.”

SpendingPulse is currently available to subscribers in Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and is delivered ahead of retail spending figures provided by other sources. It is one of the most quoted reports on macroeconomic trends in the US and is often used as a source of reference by major international news outlets.

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SpendingPulse Japan Methodology
MasterCard analyzes the transactions processed by the MasterCard Japan payments network and uses statistical models which take into account the trends of other payment methods (cash) to produce accurate and efficient reports. SpendingPulse Japan is based on a robust data sample drawn from all businesses accredited by MasterCard in Japan plus other additional data sources.

About MasterCard SpendingPulse
Launched in 2006 by MasterCard Advisors, MasterCard SpendingPulse is a macroeconomic indicator that reports on national retail spending and performance. The report is based on aggregate sales activity on MasterCard cards, coupled with estimates for all other payment forms, including cash. MasterCard SpendingPulse reports and content, including estimated forecasts of spending trends, do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual MasterCard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data.

About MasterCard Advisors
MasterCard Advisors, a division of MasterCard, provides clients around the world with insights and solutions that drive business impact and ROI. The company uses advanced analytics and deep payments expertise to translate data into actionable behavioral insights and customized services. With more than 43 billion anonymized transactions processed annually in 210 countries worldwide, the company leverages aggregated information and a consultative approach to help financial institutions, merchants, media companies, governments and other organizations of all sizes grow their businesses. For more information, go to http://www.mastercardadvisors.com/.

About MasterCard
MasterCard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardAP and @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Contacts:
Miki Koiwai, MasterCard, miki_koiwai@mastercard.com, +81 03 5728 5237
Ko Enomoto, Weber Shandwick, kenomoto@webershandwick.com, +81 03 5427 7326
Maho Sato, Weber Shandwick, m.sato@webershandwick.com, +81 03 5427 7383
Kayo Kojima, Weber Shandwick, kkojima@webershandwick.com, +81 03 5427 7403