Japan: The Thermometer

To a far greater degree than in the U.S., Japanese department-store sales are considered to be a highly reliable thermometer of the national economy. Between 1955 and 1964, Japan's G.N.P. soared by an annual average of 14% ; during that same period, department-store sales rose by 13% a year. In '65, when an inevitable slowdown set in, the growth rate of the national economy and the 156 members of the national Department Store Association (21 of them in Tokyo) suffered similarly. Thus, last week, when word came out that July department-store sales in Tokyo were up 11.9% over last...

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