By  on August 18, 2009

TOKYO — Japanese department stores' July sales fell 11.7 percent to 618.5 billion yen, registering their 17th consecutive month of decline.

The Japan Department Stores Association said Tuesday that apparel sales of the country’s 272 stores fell 15.6 percent during the month. The continued weakness of the Japanese economy and a longer than usual rainy season bit into business, especially for swimwear and other summer items, the association said.

Earlier this month, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. attributed a 4.2 percent-slide in July comps to the negative impact of the extended rainy season and an unusually cool summer.

Department store sales of men’s wear lost 16.7 percent, while those of women’s wear shed 15.6 percent.

On Monday, Japan’s government said its second-quarter gross domestic product rose 0.9 percent, marking the country’s official exit from the recession. But observers are still concerned about the longer-term health of the world’s second-largest economy.

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