Japan's total retail figures for last year have been released and it seems it was another great year for the country's shopping centres and fashion stores.

Traditional department stores and GMS chains did not fare so well though and saw another dip in sales during 2006, according to Japan's annual December roundup of the prior fiscal year.

The women's wear market grew in particular, as major retailers rushed to open large shopping malls before the enactment of a law in November that restricted the construction of such complexes in the suburbs.

While a new focus on shopping malls meant domestic sales of women's wear climbed 1.9% on the year to JPY6.70 trillion (US$59.2bn) in fiscal 2006, marking three straight years of growth, overall department store fashion sales slid 2.8% to JPY686.2bn.

By Michael Fitzpatrick.