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Fast Retailing Co. has said that domestic same-store sales at its Uniqlo casual wear chain in April fell 56.5 percent from a year before, the largest single-month drop since the company started to release data in September 1996.

The plunge came as many Uniqlo stores suspended operations amid the coronavirus epidemic. Of the some 800 directly run and franchise Uniqlo stores in Japan, up to 311 were closed in April while operating hours were shortened at 299 outlets.

Meanwhile, per-customer sales increased 10.4 percent in the latest reporting month, thanks to strong demand for new spring and summer products, Fast Retailing said Thursday.

Last month, Fast Retailing lowered its group earnings estimates for the business year ending in August due to the global effect of the coronavirus pandemic, putting sales at ¥2.09 trillion, down 8.8 percent from the previous year, and net profit at ¥100 billion, down 38.5 percent.

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