• Kyodo

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Convenience store sales in Japan fell 5.5 percent in August from a year earlier, marking the sixth straight month of decline, due to fewer customer visits amid the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, an industry body said Wednesday.

The decline of sales in the reporting month improved from a 7.4 percent decrease in July, as ice cream and other summer items sold well due to scorching heat across the country, the Japan Franchise Association said.

In August, same-store sales at seven major convenience store operators totaled ¥905.94 billion, down from ¥958.82 billion a year before.

The number of shoppers dropped 9.3 percent from the previous year to 1.35 billion, compared with a 14.0 percent plunge in the previous month, reflecting an increasing number of people working from home and refraining from nonessential outings, the industry body said.

Average spending per person rose 4.2 percent to ¥671.7 due to robust demand for food items, alcoholic beverages and hygiene products, including face masks, it said.

Sales in the service category, such as concert and sporting event tickets, sank 23.6 percent from the previous year, which was worse than the 16.2 percent drop in July.

The overall number of convenience stores in Japan climbed 0.2 percent to 55,841 from a year earlier, growing for the fifth consecutive month.

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