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Seven-Eleven (US) Becomes First Retailer to Hit 20,000 Stores in Japan

05 Feb 2018 - Chain's sales growth in recent years has drawn on female consumers

Seven-Eleven Japan surpassed 20,000 convenience stores in January, the company said Wednesday, becoming the first retail chain in the country to cross the milestone.

The Seven & i Holdings unit reported an end-of-month store count of 20,033, up by 54 from the end of December. By comparison, Japan has about 24,000 post offices.

Seven-Eleven Japan debuted in Tokyo's Toyosu district in May 1974 and grew to 10,000 stores in August 2003, nearly three decades later. The chain reached 15,000 outlets in February 2013. It operates in 46 of Japan's 47 prefectures -- the holdout being Okinawa, where locations are to open during fiscal 2019.

The chain's revenue for the year ended in February 2017 totaled 4.51 trillion yen ($41.2 billion), nearly double the sales in the year ended February 2004, when it crossed the 10,000-store mark. Average daily sales per store reached 657,000 yen last fiscal year, a gain of 2%.

As the company continues expanding its network, gains among female customers have become an important driver of sales per store. Males made up 65% of visitors during the year ended February 2004, but men and women now visit in roughly equal numbers. Seven-Eleven has attracted more working women by expanding its offerings of ready-made packaged dishes and frozen foods, positioning itself as an alternative to supermarkets.

According to a Nikkei survey, Seven-Eleven Japan led the convenience store sector with a 40.4% share of sales in fiscal 2016, followed by Lawson and FamilyMart Uny Holdings. Together, the trio accounted for roughly 90% of the market.

Nikkei Asian Review