A 7-Eleven store in Tokyo Photo: Pakutaso
business

7-Eleven stores struggling in face of labor shortage

48 Comments
By Junko Horiuchi

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And yet 7/11 is scheduled to open over 200 stores in Okinawa starting from this year. The first one's I believe around 20, on July 11th, in the Naha area.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Her Taiwanese co-worker, Kai Jhen, 54, also said she enjoys working at 7-Eleven despite the complexities, including operating the cash registers, handling utility bills and other public services, processing deliveries, cleaning toilets, restocking items, inspecting goods and taking out the trash.

Please....dont make the job seem like something it isnt. It's a service related job, a great place for her and other foreign workers to get practical language practice, but it's not brain surgery.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

And yet 7/11 is scheduled to open over 200 stores in Okinawa starting from this year. The first one's I believe around 20, on July 11th, in the Naha area.

So, there's plenty of money to go around, it's just not trickling down to the stores. Raise prices and pay substantially higher wages and they'd have no problem attracting staff, even Japanese workers. Every time I hear whining co. execs go on about a labor shortage I wonder how many of those vacancies would disappear overnight if they were offering 2000 yen/hour. Business is booming in Japan--at 100 yen shops, conbini and places like Ko-nan. It's the Walmart-ization of Japan and there's no end in sight.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I say close some of them! Waste of energy (operating 24/7) to have a 7-11, Family Mart, My Basket and a Lawsons within 5-10 minute walk from my house, not to mention the 3 supermarkets. Too much convenience in Japan .... pun intended.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Is it a labour shortage or a wage shortage?

24 ( +24 / -0 )

I say close some of them! Waste of energy (operating 24/7) to have a 7-11, Family Mart, My Basket and a Lawsons within 5-10 minute walk from my house,

You just gave the very reason why they are grouped together like this, they are three totally different corporations.

So which one get's closed? It's a free market economy so which company loses here?

Who decides?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

So, there's plenty of money to go around, it's just not trickling down to the stores. Raise prices and pay substantially higher wages and they'd have no problem attracting staff, even Japanese workers. Every time I hear whining co. execs go on about a labor shortage I wonder how many of those vacancies would disappear overnight if they were offering 2000 yen/hour. Business is booming in Japan--at 100 yen shops, conbini and places like Ko-nan. It's the Walmart-ization of Japan and there's no end in sight.

Quite so, yet if convenience stores start paying their daytime workers 2,000 per hour, other businesses are going to seriously complain because then they will be forced into raising their wages as well. (Be about damn time if you ask me!!)

I get it, and I would think that Abe's "dream urges" of businesses paying higher wages, real wages, could start with the lower end service related industries, like convenience stores. If they start paying higher, stable, full time wages, people will be attracted to the jobs, putting more pressure on larger corporations to increase their wages and benefits as well.

Hell I had a PT job in a call center once, long ago, I made more money than I am getting today, by far, but it wasnt stable work, contracted, so I ended up taking a position that pays less money, but is stable.

Offer better positions and people will come, only problem is the franchises themselves cost a load of money to run and owners would not be able to stay in business if their overhead increased.

In the end a losing situation for them, and everyone else.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

YubaruToday  07:30 am JST

I say close some of them! Waste of energy (operating 24/7) to have a 7-11, Family Mart, My Basket and a Lawsons within 5-10 minute walk from my house,

You just gave the very reason why they are grouped together like this, they are three totally different corporations.

So which one get's closed? It's a free market economy so which company loses here?

Who decides?

Now that is a very good question. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer as big corporations only care about lining their pockets, not what is best for the environment, neighborhoods, society, and so on.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There was a news before that are hordes of NEET's and stay at home mom shies that would be enough to fill up vacancies. And I remember my son calling a certain number for an arubaito in one of the convenience store conglomerates and he was told that there are a lot of foreigners waiting to be hired. Hence, I say that the lack of workers is artificial just so companies can earn more both sideways by hiring from abroad.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

increasingly become a part of the Japanese social fabric....the services and readily accessible products they provide now integral to people's lives

I use convenience stores, but usually only when I am feeling lazy or am unprepared. You can buy better stuff, or the same stuff much cheaper elsewhere. You'd have to be lazy or unprepared a lot of the time for a convenience store to be "integral" to your life.

The problem here is that the convenience store overlords are forcing franchise operators to stay open when it is uneconomical for them to do so. This happens because every sale profits the company, even if it costs the franchise owner money.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

With wages at ¥880/hours earns less than ¥150,000 per month. Needs to be at least ¥1250/hour or ¥200,000 per month.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Where I live in Tokyo I have a choice between 6 supermarkets and about 20 convenient stores(at least) in the same sized area in where I used to live in Portland, Oregon that served 1 supermarket, maybe 2 and just a couple convenience stores serving drunks only. Of course the density is off the charts in Tokyo, but I live in the suburbs with single family homes and such.

Is there any alternative to the continuous need for companies to grow regardless of the actual need for more of what they offer, especially when the capacity to even support that growth is just not there? Is there such a thing as sustainable stagnation, but in a positive sense? Probably not.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Complete BS. There is no labor shortage. People just don't want to work for peanuts, and that is all the company has to offer.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Double the hourly rate of salary and I guarantee you'll have no shortage of staff! It's not like you can't afford it!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Convenient stores are very important for drivers. The other day I drove a car in Tokyo and had a hard time to find a toilet.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Needs to be at least ¥1250/hour or ¥200,000 per month.

Uh, Who can live on that? How about starting at a whopping ¥1500 an hour as the absolute bottom.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Is there any alternative to the continuous need for companies to grow regardless of the actual need for more of what they offer, especially when the capacity to even support that growth is just not there?

I believe these companies are profitable - what do you mean that the capacity is not there?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a perfect chance for facial recognition and digital QR code payments. Smart lighting and automated beer coupons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’ll take a job there!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Strangerland

what do you mean that the capacity is not there?

The article mentioned a 'labor shortage,' for whatever the reasons being. If they can't hire more people to work in their stores(among other things probably not mentioned in the article), then they don't have the capacity to open more stores. I hope I am using the word 'capacity' correctly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is no need to grapple at all-raise wages and problem is solved.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Seven-Eleven headquarters appears willing to allow store owners to run convenience stores as they see fit, as long as it does not impact the bottom line.

And there you have it, HQ does not want to help, do it yourself, they only care about their money.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Yubaru

 It's a free market economy...

Not it isn't. If it were, workers' wages would be rising considerably in a "labor shortage." But this fundamental supply and demand dynamic has been distorted by corporate greed, including that by 7-11's operator.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

A wage issue it is.

The problem is that the wage rise would be paid by the shop owner, not by the 7/11 group and holdings. And I can imagine how low are the profit margins for a franchisee to make that happen.

Seven-Eleven headquarters appears willing to allow store owners to run convenience stores as they see fit, as long as it does not impact the bottom line.

Suure..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In a busy location a working couple who own the franchise can expect to make about ¥400,000 per month after everthing is paid for. On a captial investment of more than ¥20 million.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I bet if 7/11 gave the franchise owners enough of the profits to pay their workers at least 1,500 yen an hour, they wouldn't have any labor shortage. Those convenience store workers work really hard, especially with the all expanded services they provide compared to 30 years ago. Bill payments, takyubin, ticket sales, making & serving coffee, heating up food for you, etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@zichi

That initial investment might be more where you need more land for a parking. In the suburbs if you don't have a parking lot, you will go out of business.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is not surprising and it serves them right. Who wants to work for a firm that short-changes its employees?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

hooktrunk2Today  08:18 am JST

just a couple convenience stores serving drunks only.

Hehe, your honestly is refreshing and slightly amusing.

But that's the crux of it, and what the other person said about convenience stores not being 'integral' to their (or anyone's) lives. Their title is exactly what they are: superfluous to daily needs.

If you were organised - and let's face it, if there were no convenience stores you'd have to be - you wouldn't ever set foot in one. So 7-Eleven must raise their wages enough to end their labour shortage, it's as simple as that. The fact that a few, but dwindling amount of people are still out there willing to work there for less than peanuts is not a reason to offer below sustainable wages.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The construction of each new store is strictly controlled by the franchise company so each are identical and does not come in cheap. Parking space in city areas will cost more than in the sticks.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Only ways are (1) get more serious about getting more foreign workers and/or (2) move to automation (stores without employees).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If they paid high wages people would be queueing up for the chance of a job.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Hillclimber

Hehe, your honestly is refreshing and slightly amusing.

Ha. Thank you.

If you were organised - and let's face it, if there were no convenience stores you'd have to be - you wouldn't ever set foot in one.

Very true! If I were more organized and if there weren't any convenient stores, I would take the time to pack a lunch. I often commute 10-20km into Tokyo on a bicycle and I find an Onigiri or a bento perfect as I don't have to take as much time to grab a bite to eat. When we go out as a family, my wife wife will often pack lunches for us.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Clearly many people don’t understand the meaning of the word labor shortage. It simply means there are not enough workers to fill positions regardless of the salary offered.

The reason the home corporation doesn’t necessarily care about the stores is because a record number of stores are still opening meaning people are investing in the company. If the people that purchased the franchise license cannot pay the royalties, that isn’t the home corporation’s problem because as far as they are concerned, they have a winning business model since they are making profits and more stores are opening.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I love my local 7/11. The old ladies working during the day are great but the college students in the evening can hardly be bothered to say thanks or wash their uniform.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Won't see any solution to this popping up anytime soon. The stores request the employees learn a plethora of tasks, but at the end of the day, it was never considered to be a career position, so the pay is low. Now the stores need to decide which is better for business - paying their staff more per hour vs black out hours.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is it a labour shortage or a wage shortage?

offer fulltime jobs with the conditions attached and theyll fill position quickly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The staff at my local Family Mart are all pulling 10-12 hour shifts - for ¥900 an hour and ¥1,100 per hour for the night shift. They have a few foreigners doing smaller shifts to make up the difference, but it is the Japanese staff who are getting the hours. They have a pair of brain dead high school boys who work regularly, but they are slow working dopes, like opium.

This labor shortage is Japan’s own fault. If they were to streamline and educate people in working practices they could reduce their staff numbers by 50%, thus averting the labor shortage. They also need to increase the minimum wage to encourage ‘educated’ people to take these menial jobs instead of just filling the positions with zombies.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The answer is in the name, the original hours.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love my local 7/11. The old ladies working during the day are great but the college students in the evening can hardly be bothered to say thanks or wash their uniform.

The old I like my peasants to be presentable view.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Robots.

Or mandatory work for rich youth.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My youngest has worked at a Family Mart since he was in high school, he started out at 880 yen an hour, but now 9 years later he is pulling in 300,000 a month and has insurance and nenkin through the company! You can make good money at any job if you stick with it long enough, in fact makes more monthly than his oldest sister who went to college and has been a Kindergarten teacher for 10 years,but it is about even after her bonus.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Labor shortage is labor shortage.

Pay higher wages and you'll translate issue to another category of stores (mcdonald's/mos burger...)

Lower population means less people. Got it ?

Do you believe in spontaneous generation ?

Pakistani, Nepali or Philipinos is the doom for economic stagnation.

I am looking forward for the near future when Japanese population drops by a million a year to discuss why having more than a spoilt kid is important.

PS : and discussing LGBT rights won't help lol.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"We will aim for leniency in operating convenience stores but without risking falls in sales."

Confused. If they're franchises, they have individual owners and keep their profits, minus the ghastly annual charge for use of the company name and obedience to the rules. How does corporate feel the loss of sales if their annual charge to franchises is a set fee?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Plus the franchise owners have to buy the lot and build the building. Where is the corporate help?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We here in USA also believe that the Federal Trade Commission’s Franchise Rule needs to be strengthened in order to better protect the interests of men and women who invest in buying a franchised business

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For example, while Seven-Eleven said they would deploy personnel to outlets experiencing staff shortfalls, when an owner actually makes a request, he or she discovers that the hourly wage of the temporary staff is more than double the pay of current staff.

Interesting.....so folks actually do make more money working at a convenience store!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is like Mcdonald, No. 1 Fast Food and No. 1 Convenience Store for majority of people in the world. Both will never be second in the next 100 years.

Enjoyed walking in there, grab the hot fishball, microwave the cup noodles and drink chill beer, reading the magazine right inside the store. How convenient. Nothing like this in the West.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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