Japan’s June home appliance shipments rise to 23-year high

Japan’s domestic shipments of home appliances were worth 307.32 billion yen ($2.87 billion) in June, the highest value in over 23 years and 5.8 percent more than a year earlier, following the end of a coronavirus state of emergency, an industry body said Tuesday.

Shipments increased for the first time in nine months, marking the highest by value since 317.0 billion yen in March 1997, according to the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association.

The state of emergency was lifted for all prefectures in late May after being issued in April to allow the government to request that people refrain from nonessential outings and some businesses to close to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Buying ahead of the expiry of the government’s reward points program for cashless payments at the end of June and 100,000 yen cash handouts to buoy personal spending dented by the pandemic also helped boost shipments in the month, it said.

By item, shipments of air conditioners increased 9.5 percent to 148.20 billion yen, those of washing machines rose 4.4 percent to 34.86 billion yen, while refrigerators and vacuum cleaners saw falls in demand.

In the January-June period, shipments fell 5.3 percent from a year earlier to 1.21 trillion yen, due to pandemic-necessitated closures of shops and stay-at-home requests.

The decrease also followed a surge in demand in the first half of last year ahead of the rise of the consumption tax from 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2019.

In the six-month period, refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners saw a falloff in demand. But as more people stayed home, some appliances such as appliances used in cooking, air purifiers and dehumidifiers, drew more purchases.-The Mainichi

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