All staff over the age of 25 – which includes some 78% of employees in the convenience sector will be eligible for the living wage of £7.20 an hour when it is introduced in April.
The living wage was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his post-election statement, ahead of the Low Pay Commission’s report on the issue, the first part of which is due next month.
The ACS has called for the Low Pay Commission to be able to carry out its remit to research the affordability of the living wage without political pressure.
James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS, said: “The introduction of the Chancellor’s National Living Wage will cause retailers to delay their investment plans, cut staff hours and be forced to take on more hours in the business themselves.
“We are extremely concerned about the precedent set by the Chancellor in setting wage rates for political reasons, and call on Government to ensure that the Low Pay Commission is given the freedom to independently assess the affordability of rising wages.”
The ACS believes that the Chancellor’s current plan will cost the convenience sector £925m by 2020.
A recent survey of ACS members showed that 65% of convenience store retailers were likely to respond to the living wage by cutting staff hours, and 62% were likely to delay investment plans.
The convenience sector employs 407,000 people across 51,000 stores in the UK and contributes £37.7 billion to the UK.