Japan Regulator Tells Convenience Stores To Stop Forcing 24-hr Rule On Franchises
Japanese antimonopoly regulators on Wednesday told convenience store chains to stop forcing franchises to stay open 24 hours a day, after complaints from franchise owners struggling to find latenight staff and make a profit during quiet business hours.
- Last Updated: September 2, 2020, 9:36 AM IST
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TOKYO: Japanese anti-monopoly regulators on Wednesday told convenience store chains to stop forcing franchises to stay open 24 hours a day, after complaints from franchise owners struggling to find late-night staff and make a profit during quiet business hours.
“We indicated that it could be a problem under the anti-monopoly laws. We requested immediate improvements and asked that improvements be reported to us,” the Fair Trade Commission said in a report.
The directive by the regulator, based on a survey of more than 12,000 convenience stores and 8,423 franchise owners, was aimed at Japan’s eight major convenience store operators, including Seven & i Holdings’ 7-Eleven chain and Lawson Inc..
The issue of convenience stores’ hours became a hot topic last year after franchise owners, struggling with the tightest labour market in more than 40 years, launched a campaign to change their contracts with the operators.
Stories of owners forced to work amid massive snowstorms or in the wake of a family death attracted national attention, putting operators under pressure to loosen franchise contracts and allow for shortened hours.
Japanese convenience stores began expanding in the 1970s as their 24-hour accessibility proved a perfect match with the country’s dense population and late-night work culture.
But many analysts say the industry now looks saturated, in light of Japan’s ageing population, slow economic growth and new competitors such as Amazon Prime.
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