Eighty two per cent of convenience retailers support a freeze in the national minimum wage rate with two thirds of local shops negatively impacted by increased employment costs, according to new findings from the ACS Minimum Wage Survey.

The news has prompted the trade body to call on the Low Pay Commission for a freeze of the 2013 minimum wage rate. The survey, conducted in partnership with the Scottish Grocers Federation, collected data from 677 convenience stores with 12,319 employees. The survey identified that retailers continued to suffer from increasing employment costs and are taking the following actions:

80% of retailers are reducing staff hours

78% of retailers are increasing the hours they work

67% of retailers are delaying expansion or investment plans

On average retailers are currently paying staff 1.6% above the national minimum wage rates but this has decreased significantly from the 2011 survey when retailers were paying 2.2% above the minimum wage rate.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “No retailer wants to be a minimum wage employer. However, year after year, the difference between the average base rate of wages for retail staff and the statutory minimum wage gets smaller. This puts increasing pressure on wage bills and causes businesses to have to cut back on staff hours and delay investment plans that are vital to achieving growth.

“It is also worrying that a high proportion of retailers are taking on more work themselves. Convenience store owners are already some of the hardest working people in the UK, with more than 60% working longer than 50 hours a week and 31% taking less than 10 days holiday a year.

“This is why we are urging the Low Pay Commission to recommend a freeze in the national minimum wage.”

The Low Pay Commission consultation closes on September 17, 2012. They will make their recommendation for the 2013 minimum wage rate to Government in 2013.