Independent retailers are warning that a rise in the national minimum wage will cost jobs throughout the sector.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce an increase in the minimum wage from £8.91 to £9.50 for over-23s across the UK in tomorrow’s Autumn statement.
According to industry leaders including the British Independent Retail Association (Bira) and the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), raising the minimum wage without cutting business rates will be a “kick in the teeth” for struggling businesses.
The NFRN reports that the price marked products across 11,000 of its members’ stores prevent retailers from increasing the prices to cover the increase in staff salaries.
“Independent retailers have already been hit hard by the Covid pandemic, with many having to reduce staff levels and hours to take on more of the work themselves,” NFRN president Narinder Randhawa said.
“This increase to the national minimum wage will only make matters worse.”
Bira added that it has been pushing for a reduction in business rates for the past year in a bid to reduce the burden of debt that independent retailers are struggling with after the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also said that while stores expect the national minimum wage to increase, they cannot take on the additional cost of rising national insurance.
“Responsible employers want to see employees earn a fair wage,” Bira chief executive Andrew Goodacre said.
“However, we have missed the opportunity to reduce the burden on employees by not increasing the national insurance allowance.
“Such a move would still allow employees to earn more whilst reducing the cost to employers.”