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M&S, spending, savings and the economy

8 November 2016

9:54 AM

8 November 2016

9:54 AM

M&S is to close more than 80 stores as part of a major business overhaul, The Guardian reports.

‘We have now completed a forensic review of our estate both in the UK and in our international markets,’ said M&S chief executive, Steve Rowe. The move means that the high street chain will retreat from owning stores in 10 countries and reduce its reliance on its poorly performing clothing business,

Rowe has already promised to lower its clothing prices and pay more attention to its most loyal group of shoppers. Analysts say these 50-something women had been neglected as the store chased younger shoppers. M&S is shutting 30 UK stores but a further 45 will have their clothing departments closed or be relocated.

Retail Vision’s John Ibbotson said: ‘M&S’s humiliating withdrawal from 10 overseas markets is…a Dunkirk moment for iconic British brand.’

Christmas shopping

Consumers looking for a bargain online before Christmas could be shortchanged by sellers working together to fix prices, the competition watchdog has warned.

The regulator said it had taken action after finding evidence of collusion in some online marketplaces, The Times reports. It has written to sellers it thinks are in cartels, where members agree not to undercut each other or agree on the price they should all charge customers, requiring them to make commitments to stamp out the practice.

Meanwhile, nine out of ten Brits will be avoiding the shops this Black Friday with stress, hyperactive children and annoying staff among the most common reasons for dodging the high street.

The average Brit spends two and a half hours a week shopping online and many now avoid physical stores at all costs. In a study of 2,000 people by Flubit.com, more than one in five said too many children running around stores was one of their biggest shopping bugbears. A further 20 per cent claimed shopping is too stressful, while 12 per cent said they find overfriendly staff annoying.

Consumer spending

 

Rising prices and people spending cash on nights out at the cinema and restaurants lifted consumer spending to its highest level ever last month, according to Thisismoney.

But over a third of people are planning to spend less on Christmas this year than they did in 2015 as they increasingly worry about soaring inflation, a report by Barclaycard showed today.

Consumer spending rose by 5.5 per cent last month, the highest since Barclaycard’s records began, with cinema spending at a record high of 20.9 per cent.

Small businesses

Royal Bank of Scotland is set to announce a compensation scheme worth hundreds of millions of pounds for small and medium-sized companies mistreated by its restructuring division.

After years of controversy over the activities of its Global Restructuring Group, The Times reports that RBS will admit today that it failed some business customers and it will outline plans to offer them redress.

Savings

By the time they reach 50, many people have dabbled with investing in the stock market or have invested in funds but almost one in five have only ever put their money in cash savings. However, this may be about to change according to research by Saga Investment Services.

According to Saga’s survey, the drop in the Bank of England base rate in August has prompted people to think differently about the way they save, with 54 per cent of over 50s agreeing that the rate change will impact them in some way.

As many people over 50 are heavily reliant on interest from their savings to boost their monthly income, more than half say they are facing a loss of income due to the cut to the base rate.

Economy

Britain’s leading tax and spending experts have warned Philip Hammond that his options are limited in this month’s autumn statement after predicting that slower growth and higher inflation will punch a £25 billion hole in the public finances by the end of the current parliament, according to The Guardian.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that if economic forecasters were right about the impact of Brexit, the new chancellor would have to extend austerity after the next election in order to finally eradicate the budget deficit built up during the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Property

More and more people in the UK are looking to buy a new home in the next year and, according to house-builder Stewart Milne Homes, people are increasingly focused on the surroundings of the home and a sense of community within neighbourhoods.

Last year the Office of National Statistics reported that there were an estimated 53,200 moves from England and Wales to Northern Ireland and Scotland. According to the new survey, having strong Wi-Fi connection and hi-tech kitchen appliances were not people’s main priorities when searching for their dream home.

In the North West first place was the interior layout (55 per cent) followed by the exterior layout and the overall appearance of the house (33 per cent). Surprisingly, only 11 per cent wanted strong Wi-Fi connection and a mere 5 per cent looked for a power shower.

Elderly care

Three quarters of people aged 45 or over are not putting any money aside for their elderly care while one in ten are saving less than £50 a month. This is according to new research by SuperCarers.

SuperCarers’ research highlighted a growing sense of financial complacency regarding paying for elderly care. More than two in five people aged 45 and over think they will be able to pay for their elderly care through personal savings. A third think the state will pay. This is despite the fact that currently the cap on when an individual’s care costs can be supported by the state, stands at £23,250.


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