Retail news round-up: pre-Halloween launch of Christmas window

Selfridges claims that the pre-Halloween launch of its Christmas window in London’s Oxford Street is a first for any department store worldwide. Some 1,000 metres of red velvet have been used for its ‘With Love From’ theme.

Inflation has been blamed for a fall in UK retail sales in September. The Office for National Statistics said that their volume decreased by 0.8% compared to August, worse than an expected 0.1% fall. Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Confidence among small retailers has plummeted over the last two quarters. The Chancellor must step in at the Budget. The least he can do is ensure his £435 million package of rates relief measures is fully in place by 22 November.”

For the third consecutive month, most shopping destinations suffered a decline in footfall in September with retail parks continuing to buck the trend. They attracted more visitors than the previous year and the opposite was true for high streets, according to the British Retail Consortium and Springboard.

Thousands of Britain’s smallest firms are still not selling enough online and need on-the-ground support, says Enterprise Nation which has launched its Go and Grow Online campaign for a fourth year in conjunction with and Microsoft.

Small businesses are more likely to send faxes to try to sell their goods than use a smartphone app or a third-party retail website, according to research by Capital Economics for Amazon. The survey of more than 1,000 SMEs suggests that some exporters find fax machines more reliable than the internet when negotiating around the world. members are being invited to apply for a £5,000 grant under a scheme being launched by to help independent retailers stay on the high street.

A House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report says that Amazon and eBay “continue to profit from fraudulent activities” by sellers based outside the EU who use their sites and dodge the VAT they should be charged on sales in the UK. This “unfair and illegal” practice enables them to undercut British retailers by 20%.

The FSB described as “truly shocking” new government figures which have revealed that less than half of eligible English councils have started allocating their share of the £300 million business rates hardship fund launched six months ago.

Alan Monahan