Owner store

Convenience store owners want late-night surcharges to offset rising labor costs

A worker arranges inventory on the shelves of a convenience store in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Convenience store owners are pushing to impose late-night surcharges on items to offset the expected rise in labor costs from next year’s statutory minimum wage increase.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the National Convenience Store Franchise Association, which represents store owners, decided to formally require convenience store franchises to support the idea.

Under the proposal, owners would impose a 5% surcharge on the price of all items sold in their store from midnight to 6 a.m.

“Most shops don’t make money during late hours,” said association president Kye Sang-hyuk. “We want subsidies to cover labor costs for the night shift.”

The association is made up of major convenience store chain owners, including CU, 7-Eleven and E-mart 24.

They will also ask franchise headquarters to expand unmanned operating systems in stores and demand that the government consider scrapping weekly holiday pay.

On June 30, the Minimum Wage Commission agreed to raise the minimum hourly wage by 5% to 9,620 won ($7.35) next year.

The average monthly labor cost paid by convenience store owners is about 8.79 million won, according to the organization.

With the increase in the minimum wage next year, this would rise another 450,000 won to 9.24 million won.

The association has made no secret of its dissatisfaction with the wage-setting commission, saying its decision-making structure does not meet the urgent needs of those directly affected by it.

With soaring inflation and growing downward pressure on the economy, the store owners’ late-night supplement plan is unlikely to win public support, market watchers said.

By Park Han-na ([email protected])