Last year, the Japanese convenience store industry suffered from a slump in sales due to Corona. The pandemic drove away shoppers, particularly in city centres. 2021 interim results show the pace of recovery has been somewhat sluggish with none of the major chains able to increase sales on 2020.
Although basket size has grown due to increased take-home purchases, the biggest issue is store traffic which has yet to fully recover.
7-Eleven is now the largest chain in Japan with 21,115 outlets followed by Familymart with 15,722 and then Lawson with 14,059.
To turn things around major chains are making several changes to their merchandising strategies.
7-Eleven is moving ahead with a new layout, and accelerating online. The 7-Brand continues to be a strategic focus, it aims to launch 7NOW brand next spring, with a view to making it global.
FamilyMart has introduced a new private brand “Famimaru”; and is accelerating the use of digital signage in store. Like many retailers these days, it aims to build a new revenue stream based on media content.
At the end of August 2021, Lawson had introduced Machikado Kitchen in 7,100 stores, it’s a popular in-store prepared food range targeting singles and those too busy (or bored?) to cook. Lawson also plans to refurbish 5,000 stores by expanding the range of chilled, frozen and desserts.