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Economy

Looking for a spark, convenience stores try shared-bikes, laundromats and gyms

Successful models in Japan could spread throughout Asia as saturation hinders growth

Seven-Eleven Japan will provide thousands of bicycles through a bike-sharing service to attract customers from next year. (A store in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo)

TOKYO -- Japan's largest convenience store chain, Seven-Eleven Japan, is making it easier for customers to get to and from its stores, providing 5,000 bicycles through a bike-sharing service at 1,000 stores across the country from the fiscal year starting next April. It thinks the growing number of foreign tourists to Japan will appreciate the service too.

Rival chain FamilyMart has announced it will launch "coin laundry" services at many of its stores to meet demand for self-service laundries from single people and families with both spouses working. The company will open 100 self-service laundries at store parking lots in the fiscal year from April, and if all goes according to plan, raise the number to 500 the following year.It also plans to start running a chain of 24-hour fitness studios on the second floor of its stores. 

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