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Business trends

Japan convenience chains retreat from scale in first store cuts

Sales growth lowest in decade as industry seeks new ways to grow

Japanese convenience chains are retreating from aggressive store openings and pursuing efficiency instead.

TOKYO -- Japan's convenience store operators have begun shifting focus from expanding their footprint to maximizing the potential of what they already have as they run out of room and personnel to keep building up their chains.

The number of convenience stores across Japan under 15 companies fell 0.5% to 58,250 in fiscal 2019, the first-ever decline in comparable data going back to 1981, a recent Nikkei survey of the industry shows. Lawson shrank its network by a net 200 or so locations that year.

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