Minimum Wage Hurts Local Retailers

National Minimum Wage Hurts Local RetailersThe national minimum wage is taking its toll on local retailers according to a report into the health of high street retailers by the British Shops and Stores Association.

The bssa warns that, ever since its introduction in 1999, the National Minimum Wage has increased beyond the level of inflation driving up staffing costs at an uneven rate and it echoes the CBI’s call for a modest rise in the minimum wage.

The bssa report, Health of the High Street (3.4Mb PDF), urges action from the governement to ensure the survival of Britain’s high street shops and to continue their growth. The report includes a full review of the formula for setting the national minimum wage, raising the threshold for Small Business Rate Relief for single shops within high rental zones of UK high streets and the scrapping of the proposed Supplementary Business Rate.

Ever-increasing overheads and spiralling costs are making it difficult for many retailers to do trade on the high street with numerous traditional key shops like butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers having all but disappeared.

Despite the fact that 70% of people belive that the local high street is vital in the socio-economic health of local communities, many people no longer shop in town centres. And yet the public support for measures to protect and assist local retailers is being undermined by local governments’ failure in this matter with nearly half of consumers levelling claims of neglect at local councils to support their community high street shops.

The report also finds the high street as not just a place for shopping but for community spirit too with around 60% of consumers citing the social benefits of visiting the local high street with 50% believing it should be the focus of the town.

John Dean, Chief Executive of the bssa, stated:

"Key findings within the Report highlight the fading heartbeat of the high street, casting serious doubts as to whether, without some form of intervention, it will be able to continue to play its vitally important socio-economic role within the community in the long term."

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