TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese households’ inflation expectations have risen for the first time in nearly two years, a central bank survey showed, suggesting consumers are taking notice of a series of price increases for food and household products.
The percentage of households who expect prices to rise one year from now stood at 67.0 percent in March, up from a four-year low of 64.7 percent in December, the Bank of Japan’s quarterly survey on people’s livelihoods showed on Friday.
The last time the survey showed a growing number of households anticipating price hikes a year hence was in June 2015.
In the latest survey, 79.3 percent expected inflation to pick up five years from now, compared with 77.6 percent in December.
Japan’s core consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in February from a year earlier. It was the second straight month of rises after a year of declines, but the figure remained far below the BOJ’s target of 2 percent.
Still, shoppers are beginning to see higher prices on supermarket shelves, for items from butter to dry seaweed, as a weaker yen makes imported materials more expensive and labor shortages hike logistics costs.
Cooking oil firm Nisshin Ollio Group (2602.T) raised prices this month and tissue paper firm Oji Nepia is planning increases from May.
While prices have risen, incomes have been largely unchanged since October after adjustment for inflation, despite the government’s call for Japan Inc to accelerate wage increases to support economic recovery. Real wages were flat in February, a separate labor ministry survey showed on Friday.
The BOJ’s latest survey was conducted between Feb. 8 and March 6 with responses from 2,174 people.
Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Richard Borsuk