Japan Retail Sales (Jul. 2021)

While retail sales recovered further in July, the high frequency data point to a renewed fall in August as the Delta wave intensified and we’ve pencilled in a 0.8% drop in private consumption in Q3.
Marcel Thieliant Senior Japan, Australia & New Zealand Economist
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Japan Chart Book

Hit to output from staff absences could be hard

Skyrocketing infections and a 10-day isolation requirement for close contacts of positive cases have resulted in a wave of staff absences in Japan. Domestic carmakers already struggling with chip shortages appear to have been among the first victims of strict isolation rules. Both Toyota and Honda were forced to close some production lines at the end of last week due to staff absences. Based on the National Institute of Infectious Disease’s analysis suggesting that each positive case has up to five close contacts, Nikkei estimates that 1.8 million people could be self-isolating by the end of the month. Assuming those in and out of the workforce are equally affected, that would translate into 1.3% of workers in Japan self-isolating. Despite a much lower caseload, that would be similar to staff absences in other advanced economies where we estimate that between 0.5% and 2% of workers are isolating. And with timely data provided by the Cabinet Office pointing to a surge in job vacancies at the end of the year, the wave of staff absences appears to be hitting just as firms are struggling to find new staff. Temporary hits to production from staff shortages will cause GDP to only tread water this quarter.

24 January 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Flash PMIs (Jan. 2022)

The January flash PMI suggests that the manufacturing sector continues to expand at a rapid pace, but there are mounting signs that firms are passing on higher input costs to consumers. By contrast, activity in the services sector has slumped.

24 January 2022

Japan Economics Weekly

Restrictions may not last long, key Shunto approaching

With restrictions this week expanded to cover most of Japan’s economy, and surging infections already starting to cause staff shortages in some industries, GDP is only likely to tread water this quarter. But based on experience elsewhere, the Omicron surge may only last another couple of weeks before staff shortages ease and countermeasures start to be lifted again. Meanwhile, reports suggesting that Toyota’s labour union – sometimes seen as a bellwether in wage talks – will seek a sharp rise in bonus payments at this year’s Shunto could be an early sign that wage growth will pick up this year in line with PM Kishida’s wishes.

21 January 2022

More from Marcel Thieliant

Japan Data Response

Japan Flash PMIs (Aug. 2021)

Today’s flash PMIs suggest that the worsening Delta outbreak may yet result in a fall in consumption this quarter. And with supply shortages intensifying, the manufacturing sector isn’t stepping into the breach.

23 August 2021

Australia & New Zealand Data Response

Australia Wage Price Index (Q2)

The subdued 0.4% q/q rise in the wage price index in Q2 underlines that the tight labour market didn’t generate large cost pressures even before the latest virus restrictions.

18 August 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan External Trade (Jul. 2021)

Japan’s export volumes stagnated in July but given that a large share of those exports are cars and capital goods, we think they will rise again over the coming months.

18 August 2021
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