Reactions from c-store retailers to the imminent increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) range from outright indignation to resigned acceptance.

From October 1, the rate will go up from £4.85 per hour to £5.05 for staff aged 22 and over; while for 18-21-year-olds it will increase from £4.10 to £4.25.

The latest increase could cost employers an average of £360 for every full-time employee over the year, not to mention increased National Insurance contributions. Retailers appreciate the need to protect low-paid workers from exploitation but many believe the increase will impact adversely on staffing levels, the price of goods and customer service.

Last February, the government asserted that the NMW had not affected the job prospects of low-paid workers, with unemployment at a record low. However, Margaret Rea of Rea’s Select Convenience Stores, Lanark, Strathclyde, said: “You have to accept these things but I’m very unhappy about it. Our staffing levels are already cut to the bone.” The NMW has gone up by £1.45 since its introduction in 1999, a rise of more than 40%.

Nigel Dowdney, who employs 23 people in two Norfolk c-stores, said: “I appreciate the need for a minimum wage but not the fact that it’s above inflation. It eats into our profits.” Some owners are putting in extra time behind the tills themselves after being forced to cut staff hours. Shelina and Alnoor Ladhar own two stores with eight staff in Nottinghamshire. Alnoor said: “The Minimum Wage is crippling us.”

Martin Dassin of Sands Road Mini Market, Paignton, Devon: “We’ll have to review staff hours and possibly reduce them.”

Mark Coldbeck of Wharfedale C- Store, Hull: “Absolutely diabolical. We’ll have to review staff hours.”

Jenny Jackson of Toll Bar General Store,
Doncaster: “ It means I can’t give my staff additional hours.”