Retail sector sales continue to rise

July 24, 2015 // 0 Comments

Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics show 27 months of increasing sales in the UK’s retail sector. A PDF of the full report is available here. and an ONS media release summarises the main points of its research into retail sector as follows: Year-on-year estimates of the quantity bought in the retail industry continued to show growth for the 27th consecutive month in June 2015, increasing by 4.0% compared with June 2014. This was the longest period of sustained year-on-year growth since May 2008, when there were 31 periods of growth. The underlying pattern in the data, as suggested by the 3 month on 3 month movement in the quantity bought, continued to show growth for the 28th consecutive month, increasing by 0.7%. This is the longest period of sustained growth since consistent records began in June 1996. Compared with May 2015, the quantity bought in the retail industry was estimated to have decreased by 0.2%. Falls were reported by predominantly food stores, other stores, household goods stores and petrol stations. Average store prices (including petrol stations) fell by 2.9% in June 2015 compared with June 2014. This is the 12th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls with all store types reporting decreases. The largest contribution came once again from petrol stations which fell by 10.0%, the 22nd consecutive month of year-on-year falling prices in this store type. In June 2015, the amount spent in the retail industry […]

Rise in contactless payment demand

July 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

Almost half of consumers (47 per cent) expect or prefer businesses to offer contactless payment facilities for making purchases valued below £20, according to new research from Lloyds Bank Cardnet.  Over a tenth (12 per cent) of consumers state that they do not think enough retailers offer contactless; Just under a tenth (9 per cent) suggest that the current £20 spending limit is too low; four out of 10 consumers (40 per cent), say that they would still continue to shop in businesses that do not offer contactless card payment facilities. In a poll for Lloyds Bank, GfK interviewed 2000 people through online access panels between in March 2015 Likes and fears Exactly a quarter of contactless card owners surveyed said they liked the speed of transactions.  An additional 24 per cent stated that they value the ease of transaction. Over a third  (37 per cent) were most worried about serious security issues. Seeking a raise The current limit on contactless payments is £20. Over half (57 per cent) surveyed who stated a desire for contactless said that they do not want the threshold to exceed £30 whilst over a third (38 per cent) stated a keenness for facilities up to £50. meanwhile, less than a tenth (six per cent) want the limit going beyond £50. Aidene Walsh, Director of Commercial Cards & Acquiring Solutions, Lloyds Banking Group said: “Industry and our own data shows use of contactless is on the up and consumers are demonstrating a preference to use it to pay for low-value […]


June 1, 2015 // 0 Comments

SHEFFEX is an annual trade fair in Sheffield where local businesses take opportunities to network and give presentations. Of all the exhibitors present, only one was an actual manufacturer, the rest being service providers and a few charities. This fact suggests that there’s little cause to be optimistic quite yet. Here is an audio podcast report from our sister site giving an account of the event:

Food festivals gaining popularity

May 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

Sheffield Food festival started today and it’s clear consumers want good quality produce from artisan businesses. Around 100 artisan food and drink producers have set their stalls out at the festival which is spread in and around Sheffield’s Peace Gardens. Sheffield Food Festival is an annual event that has grown in popularity since starting only a few years ago when the credit crunch was well underway. Local authorities across the UK have been keen to promote farmers markets and similar events and there’s clearly sufficient demand to make them viable in terms of promoting independent businesses, tourism and local economies. This podcast features stallholders who explain why such markets are worthwhile:

Retail’s online future

January 5, 2015 // 0 Comments

Is our retail industry looking at a predominantly online future? Department store John Lewis said today that it relied on internet purchases over Christmas as trade at its shop counters dipped. According to an article in the Evening Standard, “Like-for-like sales across the retailer grew by 4.8% for the five weeks to December 27 but in stores they were about 1% lower. Total sales were £777 million”. Then and now Since its advent just over 20 years ago, online shopping is now valued at around £100 billion. To put this figure in context, the Office for National Statistics estimated total UK purchases at £320.7 billion, excluding automotive fuel, in 2013. It was predicted last year that British retailers would realise £45 billion of the online sales total across 2014. “Consumers are expected to shop on average online 18 times this year and spend £59 each time,” according to Retail Week on 18 April 2014. Online future Clearly, operating online offers businesses a way to increase customer reach, accessing those able to make purchases using the internet. It also suggests a way of getting rid of real estate and geographically based retail staff – factors that may become increasingly attractive to businesses seeking to slash running costs. But buying online won’t be appropriate for everyone all of the time; for example, busy commuters with empty fridges usually need to buy meals on their way home. Where the balance will ultimately lie remains an unknown. Pop-up shops (renting commercial real estate short-term) alongside local markets may become the norm on […]

Credit and debt statistics

January 3, 2015 // 0 Comments

The Money Charity provides insightful updates on the UK’s credit and debt statistics. Household indebtedness is up on the previous year’s figures and, probably no coincidence, so is spending on utilities. The charity’s December update is now out (click here to visit the site) and the video below provides a neat summary of the UK’s credit and debt statistics. (Thanks to The Money Charity for producing this video and uploading to Youtube.)

Usual gloomy January?

January 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

Will it be the usual gloomy January for retailers this year? With the festive spend over, consumers are looking to manage their money more carefully throughout January and beyond. Many people are paid early in December and, as we all know, the plastic often comes out once the cash runs out for Christmas presents and hospitality. Every year, this means slow trade at the start of each following year. Financial hangover … Consumer credit agency Experian claims that “more than a third (35%) of us will be facing January with a financial hangover, having over-spent at Christmas by an average of £207”. A spokesperson for Experian said, “Combined with almost 80% of us having been paid early in December, that can result in many struggling to make their money stretch until the end of the month. In fact, more than half (53%) of those paid earlier than usual in December struggle to meet their bills by mid-January.” Half of us (49%) will dip into our savings to cover the shortfall, and more than a third (36%) will turn to using credit, according to Experian. Caution amongst the younger generations Elsewhere, research of 2,000 respondents by OnePoll conducted in November 2014 on behalf of Friends Life found that: 18-24 year olds are most likely to think long-term in 2015 as 32% plan to curb spending on leisure activities and a third (35%) want to increase savings to buy a car or house On average, nearly half (44%) of […]

HMRC helpline numbers cheaper

December 5, 2014 // 0 Comments

HMRC helpline numbers are set to become cheaper as 0845 is abandoned. A press release from HMRC today reads: By 11 December 2014 all HMRC 0845 helpline telephone numbers will be taken out of service. As announced in August 2014, we are withdrawing our 0845 helpline telephone numbers. Between 8 and 11 December 2014 we will be taking our 0845 numbers out of service, after which customers will only be able to use our 03 helpline numbers. Customers who call a 0845 number after it has been taken out of service will receive a message telling them that calls to HMRC are no longer dealt with on that number. They will be given the new 03 number, and the call will then terminate. Customers can find our helpline telephone number on our contact us page. For most customers, an 03 number is cheaper to call than an 0845 number, and it is government and Ofcom policy is to use 03 numbers. Read more about call changes and phone numbers.

Debt-based economy

December 4, 2014 // 0 Comments

We live in a debt-based economy, one fuelled by cheap consumer credit, and it’s growing. Lessons from the 2008 credit crunch go largely unheeded, it seems. Although better regulation of consumer credit companies arrived with the advent of the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2013, the situation remains precarious. As Carl Packman reported in the New Statesman last year, “Wages are falling in real terms and household debt is 153 per cent of GDP. On average each household in the UK is bagged with nearly £8,000 in unsecured debt.” But we carry on regardless, apparently unable or unwilling to resist the economic cliff’s lure. On the up? According to data released today by the Finance & Leasing Association, “consumer finance new business grew by 7% in October compared with the same month in 2013, and by 11% in the twelve months to October 2014”. The FLA research also found: Credit cards and personal loans new business grew by 2% in October compared with October 2013; Retail store and online credit new business grew by 6% in the same period; point-of-sale car finance by 16%. Commenting on the figures, Fiona Hoyle, Head of Consumer Finance at the FLA, said: “Consumer finance has played a key role in supporting economic growth, by helping households make essential purchases.” However … The reality of consumer finance “helping households make essential purchases” is that one in five adults are having to borrow on plastic to pay their energy bills, and literally millions of […]

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