Convenience stores are being held back by year on year increases in the national minimum wage, according to evidence submitted to the Low Pay Commission (LPC) by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The ACS is calling for a freeze in the minimum wage after a survey of local shop owners found 80% of respondents had to cut back on staff hours this year, compared to 50% in 2010.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Unaffordable increases in the minimum wage are holding retailers back from making the investments necessary to grow their businesses.”

The survey of 600 shop owners also found that 74% reported that the recent rise in the minimum wage had had a negative impact on store expansion plans, while 85% reported a negative impact on pay structures.

Some 81% of respondents believe the increase has made their business less competitive, compared to 50% in 2010.

The LPC will hold hearings throughout October and November and will make a recommendation to ministers in the spring of2012.

Lowman added: “There is no doubt that the recent increases in the minimum wage have come at a bad time for retailers as they struggle with increasing costs and squeezes on profitability. We are urging the Low Pay Commission not to add to that burden.”