TOKYO - Businesses with 24-hour operations in Japan, including convenience store 7-11, are looking at reducing their opening hours as franchise owners grapple with severe personnel shortages, Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Starting in mid-March, 10 directly run 7-11 stores will adopt the company's namesake operating hours of 7am to 11pm in trials running at least a few months to see the effect of the changes on sales and customer traffic.
The convenience store operator under Seven & i Holdings will review the results to decide what to do with franchise locations, which account for 98 per cent of all stores, Nikkei said.
The convenience store leader has more than 20,000 Japanese locations. And 96 per cent of them, excluding those at such facilities as train stations and office buildings, are open around the clock.
The company has made 24-hour operation a basic rule for franchise locations not only for customers' convenience, but also because it has built its own production and logistics operations around this business model.
But franchise owners are hard-pressed to staff their stores, Nikkei reported. One such owner in Osaka prefecture who cut the store's daily hours to 19 last month has been accused by the company of violating its contract. Late last month, franchise owners asked for collective bargaining to negotiate shorter hours and other remedies.
The tight Japanese labour market has prompted many retailers and eatery operators to re-examine 24-hour operations. Convenience stores Lawson and FamilyMart have also experimented with reduced hours at convenience stores.
Royal Holdings ended 24-hour operation at Royal Host restaurants in 2017. McDonald's Japan halved its 24-hour stores over three years through 2015 to around 800 locations, Nikkei reported.