By  on September 18, 2009

TOKYO--Department stores are continuing to struggle as Japan inches its way out of a recession.

Department store sales in August dropped 8.8 percent to 456.8 billion yen, or $4.8 billion, from the same month last year, according to the Japan Department Stores Association. This is the 18th straight month of decline for the retailers, which have been suffering for about a decade in the wake of increased competition from shopping malls and specialty stores.

Apparel sales at Japan's 271 department stores fell 11.3 percent during the month.  Men’s wear sales shed 11.7 percent, while women’s wear sales declined 11.4 percent against a year ago.  The country's harsh economic condition, coupled with an unusually cool summer bit into business,  the association said.

Sales in the Tokyo metropolitan area dropped 10.3 percent to 107.0 billion yen, or $1.13 billion.

Economists and Japanese citizens are waiting to see how the Democratic Party of Japan, which formed its new government this week, will tackle the country's problems. The left-leaning centrist DPJ secured a landslide victory in the Aug. 30 election and ended decades of rule under the conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

On Friday, Japan's finance minister Hirohisa Fujii said the new government is reviewing the previous administration's 15 billion yen ($165 billion) economic stimulus package with an aim to eliminate what the DPJ considers wasteful spending.

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