TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese retail sales rose 2.3 percent in September from a year earlier, government data showed on Tuesday, suggesting consumer spending is gradually picking up.
The rise was more than a 0.6 percent increase expected by economists in a Reuters poll and was the fastest increase since March. It followed a 1.2 percent annual rise in August, the data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed.
The government raised the national sales tax to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1 to help pay for healthcare and welfare spending, but consumer spending has been lacklustre since the tax increase.
Another sales tax hike to 10 percent is scheduled for next year, but some politicians want this plan to be delayed.
Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Chris Gallagher