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Sales at convenience stores across Japan fell 5.8 percent in March from a year earlier as people refrained from going outside amid the coronavirus outbreak, an industry group said Monday.

Same-store sales of seven major convenience store operators totaled ¥833.90 billion, marking the first decline in three months, the Japan Franchise Association said.

The number of customers in March dropped 8.2 percent from a year before to 1.28 billion, even though most convenience stores remained open amid the pandemic.

Average spending per customer rose 2.5 percent to ¥649, reflecting strong demand for cooked and frozen food items while people stayed home longer, the business body said.

Sales in the service category, including concert tickets, plunged 19.8 percent from the previous year as many events were canceled due to the spread of COVID-19.

The number of the overall convenience stores in the country dropped 0.2 percent to 55,710 from a year earlier, down for the fifth consecutive month, as franchisers apparently refrained from opening new ones in the saturated market and focused on improving profitability of existing stores.

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