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There's trouble in the convenience store

Japan seems to have too many 'conbini', not enough workers, customers

The Lawson convenience chain is putting prepared meals in more of its stores.

TOKYO -- With nearly 60,000 convenience stores, Japan long ago surpassed the 50,000 mark that was once thought to be the saturation point. Future growth rests on how the chains can cope with intensified competition and a labor shortage.

At the unveiling of its new private-label products on Mar. 9, Ryuichi Isaka, president of retail giant Seven & i Holdings, predicted that the yen's weakening since last year will weigh on fuel and raw material prices, and the consumption environment will become even harsher.

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