Convenience stores struggle to operate 24 hours a day due to severe lack of workforce

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Among the street attractions in Japan are the konbini or convenience stores that offer a wide variety of products and services that include, among others, food, drinks, medicine, personal hygiene products, cosmetics, and any other thing you can think of (depending on the franchise or brand of the convenience store). These are open 24 hours a day and are one of the many establishments that brighten the streets of Japan at night. As such, the konbini are very much convenient for tourists and locals alike.


Unfortunately, this feature is currently at risk as the serious labor shortage issues in Japan takes its toll against the economy. Earlier this year, reports have shown how this grave concern compelled convenience stores to consider shorter business hours instead of the traditional 24 hour operation. According to recent news, FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co., Lawson Inc., and Seven & I Holdings Co. have issued statements confirming that they are dwelling on the possibility of reducing store hours in order to cope with the lack of personnel.


A 2018 survey conducted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed that approximately 61% of convenience stores did not have enough employees to continue operating the businesses. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Thomas Jastrzab said that “A lot of franchise-store owners are having to work themselves, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day to keep operations going…It’s really exhausting for them.” Adding to the problem is the franchise contracts of these store owners which compel them to operate their convenience stores 24 hours a day.


However, due to prevailing circumstances, a number of convenience store franchises have acknowledged this concern and are becoming more flexible in terms of store hours. Moving away from its long-standing policy of keeping stores open 24 hours a day, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. announced through president Fumihiko Nagamatsu that, “We will let the owners of (franchise stores) make the final decision.”


FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc. which have tested shorter hours for a number of their branches earlier this year likewise mentioned that they will allow their franchise store owners to decide whether or not they should operate all throughout the day.



Convenience store chains issue action plans, softening stance on operating hours amid labor pinch

Japan’s famed convenience stores look to cut opening hours amid labor shortage

If You’re Visiting Japan, ‘Konbinis’ Are Your New Favorite Thing


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