Convenience stores are part of Japan’s ‘social infrastructure,’ but labor crunch threatening that role

Japan’s growing labor shortage threatens the nation’s ubiquitous convenience stores, whose business model relies on an army of part-timers packing bento boxed lunches, manning cash registers and delivering goods 24/7.

The big three operators 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson, which have expanded through Japan’s long slump, are scrambling to ease the pressure on franchisees by offering a mix of financial aid and labor-saving automation.

But their earnings outlook is the bleakest in years.

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