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Trade associations representing the UK convenience sector have given oral evidence to the Low Pay Commission, detailing how retailers have responded to recent increases in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage.

The evidence session featured the Association of Convenience Stores, the Scottish Grocers Federation and Retail NI providing information to the Commission on how wage increases have impacted productivity in the sector, the impact on employment practices, and how wage increases have affected other areas of the business such as the price of goods.

In its annual written submission to the Low Pay Commission, ACS draws on evidence from its National Living Wage survey which represents the views of over 3,000 stores. When asked about the impact that the latest increase in the National Living Wage has had on their business, findings included:

• 75% of retailers are reducing the number of staff hours in their business
• 60% of retailers are increasing the number of hours they work to cover staff shortages
• 39% of retailers have had to reduce the number of staff employed in their business

When asked about future increases in the National Living Wage, 77% of respondents believed that the rate should not rise any higher than the rate of inflation.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman said, “Convenience store owners offer local, flexible employment and are keen to pay their employees as much as they can, but continued increases in national wage rates has an impact on employment levels. We have urged the Low Pay Commission to exercise caution in setting future wage rates and consider carefully the impact that any significant rises will have on the labour market.”

SGF chief executive, Pete Cheema OBE said, “We welcome this very positive and constructive engagement with the LPC. Rises in the NLW are part of a bigger picture of constantly increasing costs for retailers – in Scotland the tax burden on retail has increased by almost 30% since 2008. The Commission must take this and the true cost of employment into account and be extremely cautious with any further rates rises.”

As part of their evidence gathering process ahead of recommendations on future wage rates, the Low Pay Commission is also considering recommendations made in the Taylor Review on non-guaranteed hours and the overall flexibility of employment for workers.

Figures from the 2017 ACS Local Shop Report show that convenience stores in the UK provide flexible jobs for over 370,000 people.

(source: ACS)