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Convenience store sales in Japan fell in 2020 for the first time since comparable data became available in 2005 as customer traffic dwindled in urban areas and tourist spots due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, an industry group said Wednesday.

Sales at major convenience stores fell 4.5% from the previous year to ¥10.6 trillion, the Japan Franchise Association said. On a same-store basis, sales sagged 4.7% to ¥10.1 trillion, the first decline in three years.

But per-customer sales grew 6.4% to ¥673.2, hitting a record high for the seventh straight year, thanks to growing bulk buying of home-related goods, such as food items and daily necessities, amid the virus crisis.

As of the end of 2020, the number of convenience stores rose 0.6% from a year before to 55,924.

In December alone, same-store sales slid 4.0% from a year before to ¥8.98 trillion, the 10th consecutive month of decline, due to the suspension of the government’s Go To Travel tourism promotion campaign following a resurgence of the virus.

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