While many service stations with convenience stores trade 24-7, it appears that 24-hour shopping for high street convenience stores and major supermarkets is not living up to its promise and is on the way out in Australia.

According to newspaper reports, already under pressure over underpayment of wages at franchised stores, the new CEO of  7-Eleven Stores in Australia, Michael Smith, hinted last week that the opening times of 593 of its 620 Australian stores trading currently 24-7 are now up for discussion.

“We are looking at everything but we would expect 24-hour trading to remain as it is a key part of the 7-Eleven offer,” a 7-Eleven spokesperson said.

Reports suggest that several 7-Eleven franchisees complained that many branches are largely empty after 11pm.

The major supermarket chains are also cutting back the number of full-sized stores open after midnight.

One view is that there are just not enough customers compared to the cost of staff wages at a store that is open all night.

The major supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have, since the 1990s, pushed for extended and 24-hour retail trading hours beyond 10pm in most states and territories, which was strongly opposed by retailer groups such as Master Grocers Australia, which represents IGA, Foodworks, Spar, Friendly Grocer and other independents.

One of the most recent skirmishes was in July 2013, when Woolworths circumvented Queensland retail trading hours to open its first 24-hour operation in the state on Brisbane Airport land, the first major supermarket in Queensland get around rules limiting round-the-clock trading to smaller corner stores and petrol stations.

More recently, the West Australian government extended retail trading hours for general retail shops in the Perth metropolitan area, putting more pressure on grocery and convenience stores already hit by weekday late-night trading in 2010.

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