7-Eleven Japan has become the country’s first retailer to open more than 20,000 stores.
The Seven & I Holdings unit reported a store count of 20,033 at the end of last month, up by 54 from the end of December. By comparison, Japan has about 24,000 post offices.
Making its debut in Tokyo’s Toyosu district in May 1974, 7-Eleven grew to 10,000 stores by August 2003. It reached 15,000 outlets in February 2013.
The convenience stores can be found in all but one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, the holdout being Okinawa, where locations will open next year.
Revenue for the chain for the year ended February last year totalled ¥4.51 trillion (US$41 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 last fiscal year, a 2 per cent gain.
An increase in female customers has become an important driver of sales. Males made up 65 per cent of visitors during the year ended February 2004, but now men and women visit in roughly equal numbers.
More women have been attracted as 7-Eleven has expanded its offerings of ready-made packaged dishes and frozen foods, positioning itself as an alternative to supermarkets.
A Nikkei survey shows 7-Eleven Japan leading the convenience-store sector with a 40.4 per cent share of sales in fiscal 2016, followed by Lawson and FamilyMart Uny Holdings. Together, the trio accounts for about 90 per cent of the market.