The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) came into effect this week.

From October 1, the adult rate (21 and over) increased from £6.08 to £6.19, but the hourly rates for workers aged 18-20 and 16-17 remain at £4.98 and £3.68 respectively. The rate for apprentices has increased from £2.60 to £2.65 per hour.

The adult NMW has increased every year since its introduction in 1999, when the rate was £3.60 per hour, despite repeated calls by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) for a rate freeze.

A recent ACS and Scottish Grocers’ Federation minimum wage survey found that 82% of retailers support a freeze in the NMW rate, with two-thirds of local shops negatively impacted by increased employment costs.

It also revealed that increased employment costs had forced 80% of retailers to reduce staff hours, 78% to increase the hours they work, and 67%to delay expansion or investment plans.

Paul Stone, who runs three Spar stores in Manchester, was concerned by another rise in NMW when businesses were already finding it tough. “It’s yet another increase for us that will slow down business growth,” he said. “We won’t have to reduce staff numbers thankfully but we may have to reassess the rota to minimise the impact.”