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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 2 - 8  > Convenience store chains officially reprimanded for potential Antimonopoly Law violation
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2020 September 2 - 8 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Convenience store chains officially reprimanded for potential Antimonopoly Law violation

September 3, 2020

The Japan Fair Trade Commission on September 2 published a report indicating the possibility that convenience store chains’ imposition of 24/7 operations on their store owners can be regarded as a violation of the Antimonopoly Act.

The report includes the results of a survey the commission conducted between October 2019 and August 2020 on more than 57,000 franchise stores of major convenience store chain operators.

According to the report, 77.1% of the respondents said that their stores incur a loss during hours after midnight. It was also found that due to labor shortages, convenience-store owners often have to work the night shift. On average, they go on night shifts 84.7 times per year or 7.1 times per month, and they take only 21.3 days off per year or 1.8 days per month.

As many as 66.8% of the respondents answered that if possible, they want to stop the around-the-clock operation permanently or at least temporarily in order to cope with shortage of staff. This figure suggests that convenience store franchisees are pressured by franchisers to keep operating 24/7.

The Fair Trade Commission in its report explained that if convenience store companies refuse to hold discussion with franchise store owners on the issue of shortening operating hours, their act can be regarded as an abuse of superior bargaining power banned by the Antimonopoly Law. The report called on eight major convenience store chains to make voluntary efforts to avoid possible violations of the Antimonopoly Law.

The Japanese Communist Party in June 2019 published an urgent proposal calling for creating a law to protect convenience-store owners’ rights and businesses as well as to promote a sound development of the industry. The proposal underscores the need to, for example, prohibit convenience store chains from forcing franchise store owners to adopt a particular operating schedule.

Past related articles:
> JCP issues policy proposal to protect franchise owners from exploitative practices of convenience store companies [June 8, 2019]
> We can't go on any longer: franchise owners' union requests collective talks with 7-Eleven [February 28, 2019]
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