• Kyodo

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Restaurant sales fell by a record 10.3 percent in March from a year earlier, as people refrained from dining out in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to a survey by an industry body released Monday.

The disaster in the Tohoku region caused damage to restaurant buildings as well as food distribution networks, and ensuing electricity shortages forced many eateries to shorten operating hours, the survey by the Japan Food Service Association said.

These factors also contributed to the first drop in sales at the surveyed restaurants in nine months, the industry body said.The number of customers at the 30,860 restaurants surveyed fell 9.0 percent and average customer spending was down 1.4 percent.

By type of restaurant, sales at pubs, including “izakaya,” recorded the largest percentage of decline, of 19.8 percent, as many welcome and farewell parties, which usually peak in the spring due to the start of the school and business year in April, were canceled after the massive quake.

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