Seven-Eleven Japan Co. will test shorter operating hours at 10 of its corporate-run convenience stores across the country from mid-March.
The chain said Friday it will conduct such a test for the first time, as frustration builds among some franchisees over its policy of keeping stores open around the clock.
The 10 Seven-Eleven stores, spread nationwide, including in Tokyo and Miyagi, Tochigi, Chiba, Aichi, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Kumamoto prefectures, will operate between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily in the coming months.
The Seven & I Holdings Co. unit will consider whether to permanently introduce shorter hours after analyzing the results, including on sales, visitor numbers and logistics.
Currently, 96 percent of all Seven-Eleven stores operate 24 hours a day, with those located inside train stations, office buildings and other facilities being the primary exceptions.
The company has stuck to its around-the-clock policy, fearing that some stores with shorter opening hours could affect the overall efficiency of its production and distribution system.
But there are growing calls to allow shorter hours, due mainly to difficulties in securing the necessary number of workers for the night shift.
Among other major convenience store operators, Lawson Inc. and FamilyMart Co., a unit of FamilyMart Uny Holdings Co., currently allow some stores to have shorter opening hours.
Many smaller chains, including Secoma Co. and Poplar Co., allow stores to close overnight.