Labour shortage has been an issue in Japan for quite some time now, and it seems that the nation’s ever-expanding 24*7 convenience store industry has found itself on the wrong end of it. The 24*7 convenience stores have expanded at a breakneck pace over the past few years but to keep the lights on around the clock, the store owners need willing workers, and that is now becoming a difficulty due to the ongoing labor crunch. According to reports, there is a distinct possibility of stores closing at night.
On the other hand, the franchise owners have also started a campaign against the large convenience store companies to ensure that stores are closed at night. The campaign, which is aimed at the largest convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, has its roots in franchise owners having to keep working even in the event of natural calamities or bereavement in the family. That being said, labor shortage remains the biggest concern, and with the Japanese population aging rapidly, there is now a concern that the stores will find it hard to staff their stores. On top of that, the emergence of services like Amazon Prime has also proven to be a danger for an industry that is now valued at $100 billion. An expert consultant for the retail industry at Nomura Research Institute said,
The question is, how much demand is there for 24-hour service in an age when online shopping is expanding?
The convenience store industry in Japan expanded rapidly over the course of the past five decades as the presence of around the clock stores was welcomed by a country that not only worked until late but was also densely populated. In addition to that, the fact that people can get a wide range of disparate items at these stores further raised its popularity and the biggest convenience store chains grew exponentially. The franchise model worked wonders as more and more shops came up all over the country. According to some estimates, there were around 58000 convenience stores in Japan, as of 2018.
However, there is also a belief that there are too many stores in the country now and the expansion has eventually led to a glut of such stores. The editor of JapanConsuming.com, Roy Larke said as much. He said,
We do have too many convenience stores now, sometimes literally next door to each other. There is probably around 10 percent too many.