Convenience store sales fell in ’09

Kyodo News

Sales at convenience stores fell on a same-store basis in 2009 for the first time in three years due to the economic slump and because a boost in tobacco sales a year earlier has waned.

The Japan Franchise Association said sales last year declined 0.2 percent to ¥7.30 trillion after a robust rise in 2008, when the introduction of the taspo age-verification card prompted smokers to buy cigarettes at convenience stores rather than vending machines.

Cigarettes can’t be purchased from vending machines without the card, which didn’t catch on quickly with smokers.

On an all-store basis, including newly opened outlets, convenience store sales in 2009 increased 0.6 percent to ¥7.90 trillion, up for the 11th consecutive year. It was the smallest rise since 2006.

In December alone, sales fell 5.5 percent from a year earlier to ¥629.03 billion on a same-store basis.