TOKYO, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Convenience store sales in Japan increased by 1.9 percent in March compared to a year earlier, marking the first rise in 13 months, the Japan Franchise Association said Tuesday.
The increase was contributed by the rising demand for food items as people continued to stay or work at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the association, same-store sales of seven major convenience store operators stood at 861.7 billion yen (7.9 billion U.S. dollars) due to solid demand for prepared food, frozen food, dessert and alcoholic beverages.
Although the number of customers declined 3.5 percent to 1.3 billion for the 13th consecutive month of fall, the average spending per person increased 5.6 percent to 684.20 yen (6.2 dollars).
Meanwhile, average spending rose for the 18 consecutive month as shoppers continued to purchase frozen meals in large amount. At the same time, the sales of alcohol rose with more people drinking at home, the association said.
Customer visits decreased particularly in the Tokyo metropolitan area as a second state of emergency was issued in January and extended to March 21, past the original deadline in early February.
The number of convenience stores including newly opened branches stood at 55,828, up 0.2 percent compared to a year earlier, the association said.