Convenience store operator Lawson Inc. has opened outlets tailored for the elderly in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, and in Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture, the first attempt of its kind among major convenience store operators.

The model store on Awaji Island opened Saturday.

Convenience stores have been targeting customers in their 20s to 30s, but sales have been sluggish because of tougher competition and the rapidly aging society.

Lawson, hoping to cultivate a new customer base, plans to open more model stores across Japan by the fall. Depending on how well the test stores perform, it may start launching such outlets on a wide front starting in fiscal 2007.

The Awaji store has a more sedate brown sign, a departure from Lawson’s trademark blue, and features a rest space and an array of items targeting the elderly.

The rest space is equipped with tables and a television, in addition to massage chairs, so customers can eat, drink and converse while shopping.

The store has wider aisles than regular Lawson stores to accommodate shopping carts. The shelves are stocked with Japanese sweets, local specialties and other products favored by the elderly.

Lawson ran a pilot program to attract the elderly last fall in Kawanishi, Yamagata Prefecture. Steps such as installing blood pressure monitors and using bigger price labels turned out to be so popular they led to a 50 percent increase in store sales.

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