Business / Corporate

One-hundred Lawson stores to close on New Year's Day amid Japan's labor crunch

JIJI

Convenience store chain operator Lawson Inc. said Wednesday that it will close around 100 outlets, less than 1 percent of its nationwide network of over 14,000 stores, on Jan. 1, 2020.

The closure will be carried out on a trial basis as part of work-style reforms, Lawson said.

Lawson will be the first major Japanese convenience store chain to close a certain number of outlets on New Year’s Day.

The move is based on a request from owners of franchised stores, said Sadanobu Takemasu, Lawson president and chief executive officer, at a news conference.

“Owners say (Lawson) doesn’t need to open all stores on New Year’s Day when customer traffic is very slow in Tokyo,” he said.

Takemasu said he could not rule out the possibility of a similar move in 2021 and beyond.

Lawson is currently working on measures to tackle the nation’s labor shortage, including the possibility of having no staff in some stores late at night and relying instead on self-checkout systems.

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