• Kyodo News

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Food industry sales last year scored a 0.5 percent increase from the previous year, the first rise in two years, as customers at lower-priced restaurants increased, an industry body said.

While sales per customer declined 2.1 percent, the number of customers expanded 2.6 percent, the Japan Food Service Association said Tuesday.

“Consumers’ bargain-hunting practices have become deeply rooted,” an association official said. “Outlets will maintain a strategy of offering lower prices to attract customers in the immediate future.”

Fast-food outlets featuring lower-priced meals expanded sales 2.1 percent. Hamburger chains boosted sales through heavy campaigns, while ramen and “udon” noodle chains increased new store openings to expand sales.

But sales declined 2.8 percent at pubs, including “izakaya” pubs, and 0.7 percent at family restaurants.

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