TOKYO: Household spending in Japan rose six times faster than predicted during January, figures from the country's internal affairs ministry have shown.
Economists had been expecting growth of 0.4% compared to January 2012, but the actual figure reported was 2.4%. And spending by households with a wage earner soared 4.1%.
The figures lend weight to an earlier government Consumer Confidence Survey; the January index posted the first rise in five months, and the figure of 43.3 was the highest since September 2007.
More people are becoming optimistic about their income growth and job security in the coming six months.
The signs of the economy picking up were also given a fillip by the news last month that advertising expenditure had risen for the first time in five years during 2012, increasing by more than 3% on an annual basis.
And Japan Consuming, the market intelligence source, observed that same-store sales at department stores rose for the first time in 16 years in 2012, boosted by consumers spending again on premium products.
Referring to the spending figures, Koya Miyamae, an economist at SMBC Nikko Securities, pointed to "the rise in optional consumption", covering areas such as entertainment.
But he added a downbeat note when he said the increase in consumption was not likely to continue unless there was a rise in wages.
Data sourced from Japan Today/MNI/Japan Consuming; additional content by Warc staff