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With some of the longest working and commuting hours in the world, Japanese consumers rely heavily on the country's more than 55,000 convenience stores to fulfill immediate consumption needs across dayparts.  Lockdown measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus have kept workers home, resulting in a  10.6% drop in convenience channel April sales from a year ago. Operationally, it has been challenging for franchisees to secure workers to operate the 24-hour store, as well as bear the burden of safety measures. In the New Normal, shopping behavior may not return to previous habits, particularly in a smaller format. This may force convenience stores to evolve their strategies. Innovation in technology, such as unmanned stores can further reduce human contact and labor costs at the same time. Convenience stores can also connect to their customers through delivery services in their immediate communities. Changing strategies in the short-term will allow convenience stores to survive for the long-term



As consumers have established new shopping routines and retailers continue to enforce safe in-store procedures, 40% of shoppers are choosing to shop in fewer stores and becoming more selective about where they shop. Shoppers' preferred store choice is increasingly influenced by key attributes such as high-quality Private Brand fruits and vegetables as well as a retailer's ability to maintain a clean and neat store. However, while shoppers have established their current choice retailer, 34% of consumers have shortened their shopping trips and limited excessive aisle browsing. In order to retain these consumers,  retailers must leverage their Private Brand programs to provide loyal shoppers with quick and innovative solutions. This may include selective merchandising of innovative products and in-store displays offering complete meal solutions that are quick and easy to shop.



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