The 2.5% increase in the National Minimum Wage which came into effect at the weekend is a disproportionate rise which makes it harder for retailers to maintain and create jobs in the current climate.
So says the British Retail Consortium, which supports the principle of the minimum wage as a basic floor for decent pay. However, it had urged the Low Pay Commission to recommend a lower rise which, it claims, would have been more in line with economic realities.
The increase takes the adult minimum wage up from £5.93 an hour to £6.08.
The BRC says most shop workers earn above the minimum but argues that retail is a labour-intensive sector, affected more by rising wage costs than most others.
The LPC is now considering what rise to recommend in 2012. The BRC’s latest figures show customers buying less and retail job numbers down on a year ago. Against that background, it is calling for an increase of no more than 2.1% next year to ensure the minimum wage does not add to the pressures on the sector. This, it says, would reflect movements in average earnings over the past year.
It is also calling for more notice of decisions to help retailers manage their budgets. Currently, they are told about the change six months before it happens.