Business / Corporate

Lawson to install self-checkout service in all stores across Japan amid labor crunch

Kyodo

Lawson Inc. will introduce self-checkout systems in all 14,000 of its convenience stores by October to cope with Japan’s chronic labor shortage and ease the burden on existing employees, company sources said Monday.

Customers across the nation will process their purchases by scanning barcodes themselves with cashier machines that can be used for either self-service or cashier-staffed checkouts depending on how busy the store is, the sources said.

Only cashless payment methods such as credit cards and digital currency will be accepted for self-checkout, they said.

Lawson said in December it was equipping 1,000 stores with a system allowing customers to pay for products by scanning barcodes with their smartphones by October. It currently has around 10 such stores.

Lawson said Friday it will experiment with operating two unmanned stores from midnight to 5 a.m. for a few months starting in the summer.

As of the end of last year, the chain had 14,574 stores in Japan.

The labor shortage brought on by the aging of the population and declining birthrate has prompted convenience store operators to review their around-the-clock business hours.

Last month, industry leader Seven-Eleven Japan Co. began shorter operating hours on a trial basis at 10 stores in Tokyo to gauge the impact on sales and customer traffic after a franchise owner in Osaka Prefecture started closing his store overnight due to a lack of staff.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently urged four major convenience store operators to come up with measures to address issues arising from the labor shortage.