The British Retail Consortium is warning the Government that any "rash" hike in the National Minimum Wage could cause "serious damage" to the health of the UK's retailing industry.
In evidence to the Low Pay Commission, the BRC said the industry was "coping" with the present National Minimum Wage (NMW) of £3.70 an hour.
"With a minimum wage set at a sensible level, our evidence indicates that retailers are coping well," BRC director general Bill Moyes said.
"But this could all change. In a situation where shop prices are falling, sales growth is erratic and margins are still under pressure, setting the NMW too high could be damaging."
Moyes said the age threshold for the adult rate, currently 22, could be lowered to 21 without major adverse effect on the industry as the vast majority (89 per cent) of retailers applied a young person's rate to under 21s or below.
"But we would be against automatic annual increases of NMW," he stated.