Increases in the minimum wage are piling the pressure on small businesses, reports Sam 

Premier Wharfedale Hull

There’s no doubt that when politicians are vying for office there are certain vote-winning policies that will cost the government nothing, but make a huge difference to the electorate. The National Living Wage is one of these.

Retailers are in a difficult position. While we welcome the increase, knowing that our staff will be richly rewarded for a hard day’s work and our customers will have more disposable income to spend with us, we are also very conscious of increasing overheads and the pressure it puts on our business.

Many of us have absorbed the costs associated with Statutory Sick Pay, pensions and above-inflation wage increases while making the books balance, but many in the sector have been unable to justify staffing their stores with enough people to keep themselves and their stores safe. Some are choosing to work solo late at night or early in a morning, when statistically they are more likely to be targeted by thieves and troublemakers.

Many of us are small employers who care for our employees and want to retain our workforce, therefore we would rather sacrifice our profits to keep our people in employment. We don’t offer zero-hour contracts because we believe our staff should rely on a constant wage, and we don’t expect any more out of our team because we know they work as hard and as fast as we do already.

Many of us will continue to do the job we love because of the countless rewards independent retail brings, but I also fear we’ll see some fine retailers leaving the sector in the coming years because the odds will no longer be in our favour unless we get some help to balance the books.