February sales at department stores and chain stores in Japan have been disappointing. According to the Japan Department Stores Association, sales at 297 outlets run by 123 department stores dropped 2.5 per cent in February (compared with the preceding year) - the fifth month of decline. Sales at the department stores were relatively buoyant in the first half of February due to clearance sales of winter merchandise and promotional events, but sales then dropped because of lack of demand.