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TOKYO -- Despite the retail industry suffering from the recent slump in consumption, four of the five major convenience store chains in Japan increased their profits during the last business year that ended in February this year, the Mainichi Daily News reported.
Industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan, followed by Lawson and Family Mart, enjoyed record profits over the last fiscal year, with Circle K Sunkus also increasing its profit for the first time in three fiscal years, according to balance sheets released last week, the report stated.
Profit rises were largely due to the "Taspo Effect"—the introduction of the less-than-popular age verification cards for cigarette vending machines, which sent customers to convenience stores in droves and opened the door for additional sales," the report stated.
"We didn't think the Taspo Effect would be this large," Lawson President Takeshi Niinami told the newspaper.
As the Taspo Effect is unlikely to last beyond the end of the fiscal year, Lawson expanded the range of its products, such as cooking ingredients.
"We predicted that consumers would have more time to spare [due to the recession], and the number of those cooking for themselves would rise. An improvement in our product range has also increased average customer expenditure."
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