ACS chief executive James Lowman

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores has called for a freeze to the national minimum wage, warning that continued increases are preventing retailers from investing in their businesses and taking on more staff.

The minimum wage increased by 1.9% to £6.31 per hour for over-21s on 1 October, and the Low Pay Commission will make its recommendation for 2014 wage rates at the start of next year.

The ACS Minimum Wage Survey, conducted in partnership with the Scottish Grocers Federation, found 87% of retailers had reduced staff hours within their business as a result of increases in employment costs, while 75% had delayed expansion and investment plans.

The survey, which collected information from 33 businesses with a total of 911 stores across the c-store sector, representing a total of 13,923 staff, also found 90% of retailers thought the 2014 minimum wage should be frozen at its current level.

“We urge the Low Pay Commission to consider carefully the implications that a rise in minimum wage would have on thousands of hardworking retailers who are already cutting staff hours to stay afloat,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman.

“A freeze in 2014 would give small business owners a welcome reprieve and allow them to invest in their long-term future.”

The findings match those of the ACS’s Voice of Local Shops survey released earlier this year. The majority of the 1,100 retailers polled earned less than the national minimum wage when their working hours were taken into account.