John Lewis is the latest retailer to fall foul of national minimum wage rules.

The department store retailer conceded the pay error in its annual report today but was coy on details.

The retailer said today it had set aside a provisional £36m to correct the exceptional charge, which could span back over the last six years, but added the final total needed to reimburse staff may be “different”.

One might think this lack of clarity over pay is unusual – however, John Lewis is far from the first to find themselves in hot water over the costs of national minimum wage regulations.

Retailers ranging from Tesco to Argos and Debenhams have been caught out by salary fluctuations which resulted in underpaying staff in recent months.

And with the retail sector under the spotlight following pay scandals from Sports Direct last year, it is unlikely the level of scrutiny will subside anytime soon.

Between Brexit and business rates, the subtleties in salary fluctuations are fast proving to be a headache that retailers could likely do without.

Also today, Tesco has integrated Google Home’s voice assistant into its online offer and Amazon launched a live music events division to bolster its Prime membership offer.

Quote of the day

”April’s sales provided a brief period of respite for retailers following a relentless start to the year. However, much of the rise was driven by the timing of Easter and the growing inflationary pressure the sector is facing, rather than a sudden upswing in consumer confidence.”

KPMG’s head of retail Paul Martin on April retailer sales, according to the BRC-KPMG monitor

Today in numbers


The jump in Zalando’s first quarter sales to €980.2m


Gear4Music’s full-year pre-tax profits

Wednesday’s agenda

Look out for news from Retail Week’s Supply Chain conference.

Grace Bowden, reporter