Japan's restaurant chains see first sales rise in 3 years

Sales at Japan's major restaurant chains rose in 2022 for the first time in 3 years. But the numbers are still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

The Japan Foodservice Association says total sales were up 13.3 percent from a year earlier.

The lifting of coronavirus restrictions and a rise in average spending per customer due to higher menu prices were major factors behind the recovery.

Sales at pubs and izakayas jumped by 80.9 percent while at dining restaurants they were up 31.7 percent. Casual family eateries or family restaurants saw an increase of 18.1 percent.

But overall sales last year fell 5.8 percent from 2019. At pubs and izakayas, they were less than half as fewer people were eating out in the evening.

The association says fast-food chains are enjoying strong demand for take-away and delivery services.

But it says, in contrast, establishments that offer in-store dining haven't recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

It also says soaring energy and raw material costs and a weaker yen are putting a squeeze on restaurant chains.