• Kyodo News

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Mail-order sales rose 4.1 percent in fiscal 2009 to around ¥4.31 trillion for the 11th consecutive year of expansion due to the rising popularity of Internet-based orders, the Japan Direct Marketing Association said Friday.

While online orders grew rapidly thanks to increasing product lineups at Internet shopping sites, conventional retail sales at department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores remained sluggish.

According to separate data by retail industry bodies for 2009, sales fell 10.8 percent at department stores, 3.3 percent at supermarkets and 0.2 percent at convenience stores.

Analysts say more consumers are tightening their purse strings and are shopping for consumer appliances, local specialty food and other products on the Internet while spending their weekends at home.

Supermarket chains such as Ito-Yokado Co. and Aeon Co. are expanding their Internet shopping services to tap into the demands of consumers looking to buy food and other daily commodities online and having them delivered.

“The mail-order industry’s annual sales are expected to expand to ¥5 trillion within three years,” industry association Chairman Kazuyoshi Miyajima said.

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