Adapting to Change: The Evolution of Japan’s Convenience Stores in the Digital Age

Joel Fukuzawa
3 min readDec 2, 2023

ntroduction: The Challenge of Stagnation

For about half a century, convenience stores have been an integral part of Japan’s landscape, offering 24-hour service and an array of ready-to-eat meals and desserts. However, recent years have seen a slump in customer footfall, exacerbated by the rise of online shopping. A Tokyo convenience store owner with over 35 years of experience observes a decline in young customers, a trend echoed across the industry. A survey by Nikkei on 1,000 Japanese participants revealed that while men aged 20 to 50 visit convenience stores 2 to 3 times a week, teenage girls do so only once, and teenage boys and women in their 30s increasingly avoid these stores.

Shifting Consumer Preferences

The changing shopping habits highlight a move towards thrift and value for money. Many now prefer supermarkets and drugstores, driven by a desire for better prices and a wider selection. This trend is reflected in the increased business at supermarkets, especially during late hours and for discounted items. A 40-year-old office worker shares her shift from frequent convenience store visits to almost exclusively shopping at supermarkets, seeking value and variety.

Price Sensitivity and Consumer Expectations

The past year has seen over 30,000 daily use products in Japan undergo price hikes, including significant increases in food prices at convenience stores. This has led to a perception of these stores being relatively expensive. In response, consumers express a desire for more attractive private brand (PB) products, seeking quality and affordability amidst manufacturer price rises.

Innovation in Retail: FamilyMart’s Fashion Foray

FamilyMart, one of Japan’s top three convenience store chains, has shifted its focus to developing its own clothing line. This pivot culminated in the ‘FamiFes’ fashion show event in Tokyo, a first in the convenience store…

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Joel Fukuzawa

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