Japanese Convenience Stores See Business Rebound

By adapting to meet new consumer behaviors, these companies have experienced improvements in sales and profit.

October 09, 2020

TOKYO—Through innovations, Japanese convenience stores are seeing a brighter future, Nikkei Asia reports. “We believe that the impact of the new coronavirus has subsided... We want to move ahead with our efforts at an even faster speed,” said Takashi Sawada, president of Family Mart. The chain has experienced “a significant improvement in earning power,” as same-store sales increase daily.

Seven & i Holdings and Lawson also have seen more positive sales during the second quarter of 2020 compared with the first quarter. The government encouraged domestic travel during the summer to help boost the economy. Japan’s Cabinet Office indicated that “private consumption is picking up, while weakness can be seen in some sectors,” in its September monthly economic report.

“Consumers’ behavior is significantly changing, with more people coming to shop online or in their neighborhood and consume at home. This new normal is likely to take root,” said Nozomi Moriya, a retail analyst at UBS Securities. “Convenience stores must respond to the changes in demand by changing the assortment of products and operations.”

Convenience store operators have been able to adjust to new consumer behavior during the pandemic. For example, many added more options in frozen and prepared foods. Seven & i also altered its shelf arrangements to increase sales. “The new layout is designed to allow customers to see liquor, sweets and chilled beverages all at once,” said Ryuichi Isaka, president of Seven & i Holdings.

Another way c-stores have benefited during the pandemic is shoppers not wanting to travel far for necessities. “Hygiene products, frozen foods, condiments, desserts and fresh produce have been selling well,” said Sadanobu Takemasu, president of Lawson. “This shows exactly the current consumer behavior.”

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.