TOKYO -- A Sept. 1 change in the laws governing alcohol sales in Japan allows for home delivery of wine and beer along with pizza.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, the relaxed rules have pizza delivery services, such as Four Seeds Corp., which operates the Pizza-La chain, and Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan Ltd., which runs Pizza Hut stores, excited about the change.

Florists are also getting in on the act, with one store set to promote alcohol and bouquet sales under the phrase, "Let's offer flowers and wine (to your girlfriend)."

Over the next two years, the number of stores marketing alcoholic drinks is expected to increase from 100,000 to 110,000, according to estimates by beverage manufacturer, Suntory Ltd.

According to the report, sales of alcoholic beverages plunged from 6.87 trillion yen (U.S. $59 billion) in 1994 to 5.72 trillion yen (U.S. $49 billion) in 2001, according to alcohol industry estimates. Beer sales were especially hard hit; purchases have declined for 40 consecutive months through July 2003.

Hoping deregulation will help reverse the trend, alcohol manufacturers are developing new products and strengthening sales promotions. Sapporo Breweries Ltd. has produced a miniature bottle of wine priced at just 100 yen (U.S. 86 cents) specially designed for sale at pizza delivery outlets.

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