The Association of Convenience Stores has warned about the affordability of wages as the government confirmed that the headline rate of the National Living Wage will rise to £11.44 per hour in April 2024.
The new headline National Living Wage rate will apply to everyone aged 21 and over – it was previously 23 or over – and confirms that the government will meet its target of increasing the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median earnings by 2024.
In addition, the National Minimum Wage rate for workers aged 18-20 will rise from its current rate of £7.49 per hour to £8.60 per hour, an almost 15% increase.
The rate for apprentices will also rise from £5.28 per hour to £6.40 per hour, an increase of over 20%.
In response, the Association of Convenience Stores has called for a pause on future increases if they’re shown to be damaging investment and employment prospects.
ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: “This will be tough for many local shops to afford, having struggled with a cost of doing business crisis for nearly two years now, and with wage bills the biggest expense for most retailers.”
Findings from ACS’ National Living Wage Survey 2023 revealed that retailers have already responded to recent increases in the NLW by taking lower profits (69% of stores), reducing staff hours (56%), reducing the amount they invest in their business (50%), and automating certain processes (50%).
In addition, the NFRN says the latest increase in the national minimum wage will be damaging to many small stores.
National President Muntazir Dipoti warned that the extra cost could be the tipping point for stores that are already struggling to stay in business in the current economic climate.
He said: “As responsible employers, we want to pay our staff a fair wage for a fair day’s work. However, it should be borne in mind that many small shops are also struggling to cope with soaring costs.
“Unfortunately, there are hours in the day when some retailers do not generate an income of £11.44.”
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