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Retail news round-up: Customer satisfaction; household sectors may be hit; cosmetics puts on a brave face

For the second year running, Amazon is the organisation with the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the country according to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index from The Institute of Customer Service. In a strong showing from online retailers, new entrant ASOS comes in at second place, while John Lewis, M&S (food) and Waitrose also feature in the top five.

The GfK consumer confidence index rose four points from December to -9, the largest one-month increase since September 2016. And confidence among companies rose by seven points to a nine-month high of 35%, according to the Lloyds Bank business barometer. However, Mintel says its consumer confidence indicators show that confidence is weak. It expects the household goods sectors will be worst hit in 2018 and online will, again, see the strongest growth.

The cosmetics and personal care industry is predicted to see record gains across the board, with particularly strong growth expected for sun protection and anti-aging products as consumers become increasingly aware of the dangers of sun exposure, according to Pragma Consulting.

The Positive Luxury 2018 Predictions Report states that the ‘influential power of emotion’ will drive luxury sales this year, with 70% of millennials willing to spend more time and money with brands they care about.

John Lewis, M&S, Next, Debenhams and Sainsbury’s have still not added their names to a list of brands binding themselves to Bangladesh’s latest laws on fire and building safety, according to The Independent. The original 2013 agreement is due to expire in May and the legally binding Accord of Fire and Building Safety was set up after the Rana Plaza building collapsed, leaving more than 1,135 workers dead and 2,500 injured, says the paper.

The Q4 2017 survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reveals that demand for retail property space fell to its lowest level since 2011, with retail the only area of the property market to seen an increase in the availability of leasable space. And a study by Lendy shows that planning applications for new shops have fallen for the ninth year in a row.

An urgent review of business rates is being demanded by the Treasury select committee as retailers continue to suffer, according to the Financial Mail on Sunday.

Retail footfall continued its long-term fall in 2017, with Springboard reporting that the entire decline occurred during daytime hours, while footfall increased post-5pm.

Three-quarters of UK adults feel positive about their finances – up from 41% last year, a survey for VoucherCodes finds.

Purple power: The gift industry is looking to ‘colour of the year’ purple to drive sales, but Waitrose has predicted that it will also boost purchases of persimmons, purple carrots, figs, aubergines and purple carrots and sweet potatoes.

Alan Monahan