The Association of Convenience Stores has urged the Low Pay Commission to consider the impact of future increases in wage rates on the labour market.

In its annual submission to the LPC, which sets the National Living Wage, the ACS said its Local Shops Report showed that the number of jobs in the convenience sector fell from 407,000 in 2015 to 370,000 in 2017, despite the number of stores remaining stable.

It also cited evidence from its National Living Wage survey which represents the views of over 3,000 stores. The findings reveal:

  • 75% of retailers are reducing the number of staff hours in their business
  • 60% of retailers are increasing the number of hours they work to cover staff shortages
  • 39% of retailers have had to reduce the number of staff employed in their business

When asked about future increases in the National Living Wage, 77% of respondents believed that the rate should not rise any higher than the rate of inflation.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience stores are an important local employer, providing flexible jobs for people that often have other commitments at home. It is clear however that rises in the National Living Wage are forcing retailers into making difficult decisions to reduce costs in their business by reducing staff hours, working more themselves to make up the shortfall and even having to lay off staff altogether.

“Convenience store owners are keen to pay their employees as much as they can, but further job losses should not be a consequence of rises in national wage rages. We urge the Low Pay Commission to exercise caution in setting future wage rates and consider carefully the impact that any significant rises will have on the labour market.”