• Kyodo

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Convenience store sales in Japan rose 6.6% in April from the same month last year, marking a year-on-year rise for the second consecutive month, with the first nationwide state of emergency declared over COVID-19 affecting last year’s figure, an industry body said Thursday.

Same-store sales by seven major convenience store operators totaled ¥842.50 billion, as the number of shoppers rose for the first time in 14 months, by 7.8% to 1.24 billion, according to the Japan Franchise Association.

But average spending per customer fell for the first time in 19 months by 1.1%, to ¥682.10, as people tended not to buy food and beverages all at once compared to a year earlier.

Still, sales of alcoholic beverages remained solid, with many people drinking at home as a third state of emergency was declared in late April, the association said.

The first state of emergency to be declared over COVID-19 in Japan was issued in Tokyo and its vicinity in April last year and later expanded to the whole nation, causing a sharp decrease in the number of people going out.

Same-store sales in April 2020 dropped 10.6% from a year earlier, logging the sharpest monthly decline since comparable data became available in 2005.

The latest state of emergency was declared in April this year initially covering four prefectures including Tokyo, and later expanding to cover a total of nine prefectures.

Compared to figures in pre-pandemic April 2019, the reporting month’s sales on an all-store basis fell 3.7% to ¥882.17 billion, while the number of customers dropped 9.8% to 1.30 billion. The number of stores was little changed, from 55,824 in April 2019 to 55,868 in April 2021.

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