South Korean convenience stores wind back 24-hour service

South Korean convenience-store owners are cancelling 24-service as minimum wage rise has eroded profits.

Last year, president Moon Jae-in launched a campaign to raise the hourly minimum wage by 29 per cent over two years. With night-shift employees earning time-and-a-half pay, franchisees have been struggling to pay part-time staff during the small hours.

Not all stores traded around the clock when Shinsegae group launched the Emart convenience-store chan in 2014. Three Korean c-store giants, GS Retail, BGF Retail and Lotte Group, now allow its franchisees to close stores at night if the outlets lose money overnight for three months.

In a market with the highest rate of c-stores per capita, South Korean convenience-store owners are shifting their focus to automated, unmanned stores. Emart is trialling a cashier-free store in Seoul with more than 30 cameras installed. Payments are made with credit card information stored in advance. Meanwhile, Lotte operates 17 unmanned outlets where products are scanned and identified by its shapes.


Last year, many 7-Eleven and Familymart stores in Japan had to overturn its 24-hour operations as they were suffering the labor shortage.

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