Sentiment Plunges to a Record Low on Japan’s Main Street

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(Bloomberg) -- Japanese merchants may never have been more worried.

Sentiment among store managers, barbers, taxi drivers and others who deal directly with Japanese consumers plummeted to a record low at the end of March, according to results Wednesday from a Cabinet Office survey that goes back to 2002.

The Economy Watcher’s survey is one of the first consumer-related data points released by the Japanese government each month, so it offers an early glimpse of how people on the ground are feeling about the fast-moving impact of the coronavirus.

Sentiment Plunges to a Record Low on Japan’s Main Street

An index in the survey measuring people’s view of their current circumstances showed more gloom than after 2011’s deadly tsunami disaster or during the global financial crisis. Another index of people’s outlook also fell to a record low.

And the situation is likely to have gotten worse since the survey. With infection numbers jumping recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday declared a state of emergency covering Japan’s main cities. He also unveiled a record aid package to stem the economic damage as the country hunkers down.

A separate report Wednesday from Tokyo Shoko Research showed Japanese bankruptcies jumped 12% in March from a year earlier. Business failures have increased by double-digits in each of the last four months. Some economists now see the economy shrinking more than 20% this quarter.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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