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    INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Japan's C-store Sales, Traffic Post Sharp Fall

    Unseasonably cool and rainy weather sends July sales down 7.5 percent from year ago.

    TOKYO -- Japan's convenience store sales in July fell 7.5 percent from a year earlier to 654.80 billion yen on a same-store basis—down for the second straight month.

    The decline was attributed to sluggish sales of summer season items, such as ice cream and soft drinks, due to unseasonably cool and rainy weather in most parts of Japan during the month, The Associated Press reported, citing the Japan Franchise Association.

    The number of visitors to Japan’s convenience stores also dropped 4.5 percent to 1.16 billion, marking the first decline in 16 months, as the benefits stemming from the introduction of "taspo" smart cards diminished, according to the AP report.

    The new system, which was introduced nationwide a year ago and designed to prevent minors from buying cigarettes from vending machines, had prompted many smokers without the age-identification cards to visit convenience stores to purchase cigarettes instead of buying them at vending machines.

    Purchases per person declined 3.1 percent to 566.5 yen, down for the eighth consecutive month, according to the survey, which covered outlets operated by 11 major convenience store companies that belong to the association, the AP reported.

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