Japanese households are becoming less tolerant of soaring food prices: study

A shopper browses a supermarket in Tokyo’s Ota district in May 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese households are becoming less tolerant of soaring prices for food and basic necessities, according to a recent analysis of Bank of Japan surveys by a research firm.

Analysis by Mizuho Research & Technologies Ltd. household spending surveys runs counter to BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s remark in early June that consumers had become “tolerant” of rising prices.

Kuroda was later forced to retract it and apologize following a backlash from the audience.

The company has also seen a growing trend to reduce spending on food and beverages.

Using data from the BOJ’s quarterly surveys, Mizuho Research quantified household tolerance by subtracting the percentage of respondents who viewed price increases as “worrying” from those who perceived them as “desirable”.

Analysis of the progression of tolerance between June 2004 and March 2022 showed that households’ tolerance to higher prices has decreased markedly compared to the second half of fiscal 2021, when oil price spikes are become salient.

Tea bags, futons, air conditioners and cooking oil were among the items consumers slashed, the company said, citing its separate analysis based on government statistics such as the Retail Price Index. consumption and household expenditure survey.

Saisuke Sakai, senior economist at Mizuho Research, drew attention to the disproportionate burden of rising prices on low-income households.

“They are less tolerant of price hikes because daily necessities make up a larger proportion of their spending,” compared to their more affluent peers, Sakai said.

Julio V. Miller