* Will monitor June sales to gauge overall consumption
* Cold summer, warm winter pose risks for consumption
* 7-Eleven sales so far in May up an average 4 pct -
(Adds details throughout)
By Ritsuko Shimizu
TOKYO, May 20 Japanese consumer spending will
resume a firm trajectory after a dip caused by a sales tax hike
last month, supported by a rise in wages and bonus payments, the
president of Seven & I Holdings Co said on Tuesday.
President and Chief Operating Officer Noritoshi Murata said
that while sales had slipped for big-ticket items in April,
consumption trends this month indicate that the impact of a
higher sales tax was less pronounced than after the previous
increase in 1997.
"We're not being overly optimistic, but things are looking
firm," he said at the Reuters Japan Investment Summit.
The world's biggest convenience store operator last month
forecast a fourth straight year of record operating profit for
the business year to February 2015, backed by plans to open
1,600 new 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan.
While the last consumption tax increase dragged Japan into a
recession and depressed private demand for years, economists are
more sanguine about the latest hike, optimistic that Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe's recipe of ultra-easy monetary policy,
fiscal spending and promised reforms will reawaken the Japanese
7-Eleven has managed to boost same-store sales for 21
straight months through April, and sales so far in May were
averaging about 4 percent higher than the previous year, Murata
To gauge broader consumption, Murata said he would monitor
sales results in June, when many Japanese will have had time to
digest an average wage increase of about 2 percent in the fiscal
year that started in April, while some would be receiving their
summer bonuses, which are also forecast to rise.
"I think June will be a turning point," he said, adding that
beyond that, a cool summer and warm winter were major risks for
Seven & I also owns supermarket chain Ito Yokado, department
store operator Sogo & Seibu Co and family restaurant chain
Denny's, among others.
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(Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim;
Editing by Christopher Cushing and Chris Gallagher)