7-Eleven reportedly shortens opening hours in China

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Mar. 7 (NBD) -- 7-Eleven, a Japanese-owned American international chain of convenience stores that opens 24 hours a day, is shortening business hours in China following a similar move in Japan, reported news outlet Beijing Business Today.

It is learned that currently four 7-Eleven stores in China's Nanjing have shortened operation time to 15 hours through working from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. But their store descriptions on rating App Dazhong Dianping and web mapping app Amap still show that they open 24 hours a day.

However, no response regarding the change has gained from the headquarters of 7-Eleven as of press time.

Some people thought it might be a result of inadequate profits and was deemed as a means to save labor costs.

But it is noticed in Beijing most 7-Eleven stores keep running at night, with the exception of some located in areas where property companies don't allow people in during night. In addition, other convenience store brands such as FamilyMart and Blibee also operate 24 hours a day.

"For the convenience of customers, our store operates all day long," said the person-in-charge of a FamilyMart store, adding that the sales performance at night will not be taken into special consideration.

Opinions on the running hours of convenience stores have long been divided. Is 24-hour operation really necessary?

Taking Beijing as an example, many convenience stores are not frequently visited at night, especially in winter, except for the stores that are well-located. However, the stores have to cover the cost of labor, electricity and water as well during the period.

Despite few customers, there are lots of things to do. Workers have to receive and sort out goods, clean the stores and prepare breakfasts during the night.

From the perspective of enterprise management, 24-hour operation might be not human-orientated for front-line sales persons. That is also why it is harder to find employees to work at night, said Yun Yangzi, an analyst with the retail industry.

But standing in the shoes of customers, he believed 24-hour operation is necessary for a convenience store as it can meet the urgent and on-demand needs of customers. With regard to the current challenge, Yun suggested that related enterprises should figure out a way to balance costs and demands, such as using unmanned retail technologies and equipment.

Pan Yuxin, former general manager of convenience store Quik and co-founder of Azure Capital expressed similar view. 24-hour operation is the key that makes a convenience store a real "convenience store", Pan added.

He noted that the sales at night shouldn't be calculated separately when running a convenience store. If such stores are closed at night, customers' needs will not be fully met, which in turn affects the sales in the daytime. In principle, sales in the day of well-operated stores are able to cover the costs at night. If the sales at night are too low, that might be an indication of wrong location.

 

Email: tanyuhan@nbd.com.cn