Supermarket sales in Japan in February grew at their fastest pace in over four years as consumers bought more food to eat at home amid the new coronavirus scare, industry data showed Tuesday.

Overall sales rose 4.1 percent from the year before to ¥937.6 billion, marking their largest gain since May 2015, when the negative impact of the April 2014 consumption tax hike had been wiped out, the Japan Chain Stores Association said.

February marked the first increase in supermarket sales in five months.

The number of customers surged 4.2 percent.

By product, food sales rose 5.8 percent, with rice and frozen foods attracting hefty demand reflecting moves to stockpile food.

Demand was also strong for household goods and drugs, including toilet paper and face masks.

But sales of pricey products, such as suits and home appliances, were sluggish. As a result, sales per customer edged up by only 0.9 percent.

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