• Kyodo

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Sales at convenience stores in Japan fell 10.6 percent in April from a year earlier, logging the sharpest monthly decline since comparable data became available in 2005, as customer visits dropped amid stay-at-home requests to tackle the spread of the novel coronavirus, an industry body said Wednesday.

The same-store sales of seven major convenience store operators totaled ¥778.16 billion ($7.2 billion), down for the second consecutive month, the Japan Franchise Association said.

The number of customers plunged for a second straight month to 1.13 billion, down 18.4 percent from a year earlier and also marking the largest margin of decline, though most convenience stores across the country remained open after the state of emergency was declared in the month.

Average spending per customer rose 9.5 percent to ¥688.3, however, as people stocked up on frozen and cooked food items, and alcoholic beverages as they spent more time at home, the association said.

Sales in the service category, including theater and concert ticket sales, tumbled 21.8 percent compared with the same month last year after the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, forced the cancellation of events.

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