Sales at convenience stores across Japan rose 2.6 percent in February from a year earlier as prepared food and anti-infection products such as masks drew strong demand amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, an industry group said.

Same-store sales of seven major convenience store operators totaled ¥802.68 billion, marking the second straight year-on-year increase, the Japan Franchise Association said Monday.

The number of customer visits increased for the first time in five months to 1.26 billion, up 2.3 percent, as many people stayed home longer to curb a further spread of the pneumonia-causing virus, it said.

The association also attributed the overall sales increase to being a leap year.

Average spending per customer rose 0.3 percent to ¥638.5, up for the fifth consecutive month.