Bizmachi is presenting the viewpoint of the President of one of the largest convenience chain stores in the country, Lawson. The issues he raises in this interview may interest some of our readers.
The Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed Lawson Inc. President Sadanobu Takemasu on how the convenience store industry is coping with the new coronavirus. The excerpt is as follows:
The declaration of a state of emergency completely changed our lives.
Convenience stores serve as bases to supply necessary goods. Our responsibility is very heavy.
What’s most important is to thoroughly prevent infections in our stores. We put up vinyl curtains at our cash registers and now place the change on trays [instead of handing it directly to the customer].
We’ll also be increasing the number of self-checkout machines.
We maintain sales at stores located in residential areas, but sales in central Tokyo and at stores within office buildings have fallen 70% to 80%. About 280 of them about 14,000 [Lawson] stores nationwide are closed due to the closures of facilities that house our stores.
To prevent a situation where even one of those stores ends up not being able to continue its business, our head office will provide loans or take other measures to help our franchisees.
We are also flexible with shortening business hours, and the number of our stores operating on shorter hours has more than doubled than from before to about 400.
The spread of this virus will change our society, and its impact will continue even after the outbreak has ended. A lot of people may be now wondering what was the point of commuting on a crowded train every day when teleworking has become widespread.
From now on, people may work only on Mondays and Wednesdays, for example, and big offices as they exist now would no longer become necessary.
And just as videoconferencing systems have become more commonplace, digitization will surely spread further. Convenience stores also need to adapt to those changes.