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Japan: Spending spree for shoppers ahead of sales tax rise

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Japan: Spending spree for shoppers ahead of sales tax rise


There is so much to buy and so little time! It is spend, spend, spend in Japan where last-minute shopping has become something of a national pastime.

Consumers are buying ahead – and buying in abundance – before their budgets are squeezed by a rise in sales tax on April 1.

Eager not to be April Fools, with VAT going up from five to eight percent, people are purchasing everything from supermarket staples to houses and cars.

“Well there is no choice,” said Shinichi Ogawa, at a supermarket in Shinurayasu City in Chiba Prefecture. “So I have to accept it. But it would be good if the tax could stay at five percent.”

Fellow shopper Kyoko Takahashi is not overspending, saying it won’t make much difference when spread out over a year’s shopping. “Besides, I could end up buying something I don’t need,” she said. “So I would rather not think about shopping before the tax increase.”

Japan’s first sales tax rise in nearly two decades will also make getting around Tokyo on public transport that bit more expensive.

Once it is implemented, shoppers are likely to tighten their purse strings. But for now firms are said to be boosting production to meet consumer demand as shops hold special sales with 11th hour bargains at knockdown pre-tax hike prices.

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