Retailer trade bodies have criticised proposals by the Labour Party to link the level of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to average earnings.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “We support the National Minimum Wage and the protection it provides to workers, but forcing large annual hikes in the minimum wage rate, in the way that the Labour Party proposals suggest, will threaten investment and prevent local shops from creating jobs.

“We firmly believe that the Low Pay Commission should be left to independently evaluate, monitor and recommend future wage rates. Indexation of the National Minimum Wage to average earnings would not account for fluctuations in the economy or employment market.

“The success of the National Minimum Wage over the last 15 years is based on ensuring that politics is removed from how rates are set. It is vital that this does not change.”

Commenting on the announcement, National Federation of Retail Newsagents chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The NFRN is sympathetic to calls to increase the NMW. However, before any measures are taken to reform the current system, the impacts that such changes would have on micro businesses should be fully considered.

“Hardworking newsagents and convenience store owners are struggling to pay themselves the minimum wage, and while it’s understandable to look at ways of increasing the wages of those on low pay, it needs to be understood that such changes could lead to business closures, hours being cut and jobs being lost.

“Therefore, I would encourage Labour to rethink.”