Retail news round-up: online information; Easter sales, import duties

An investigation by Which? has revealed that almost 50 major online retailers were misinforming or failing to provide clear information to shoppers about returns rights on their websites. The consumer champion says that as a result of its investigation 10 retailers, including Lakeland and M&S, have since updated their information to clarify the unwanted and faulty goods returns information that Which? highlighted to them.

Major retailers are getting ready for the long Easter weekend with massive promotional discounts. Might Good Friday become the new Black Friday for shoppers?

If Britain fails to agree a deal on tariffs with the EU the retail industry could be hit with a ‘debilitating’ £7.8 billion in extra import duties, according to research by retail consultancy Retail Economics and the law firm Squire Patton Boggs. It reveals that higher tariffs will hit the UK food and drink industry more than any other sector, while clothing and footwear retailers face the most disruption compared to all other non-food retailers, with the research revealing they would pay up to £1.1 billion more for imports.

Following declines in December and January, sales volumes rose a better-than-expected 0.8% last month, helped by inflation across the UK falling to its lowest level since July. However, non-food purchases fell by 0.3%, with the Office for National Statistics stating that consumers preferred to spend on essentials.

A new Episerver global study, 2018 Reimagining Commerce, found that online shoppers are looking for a reason to buy. They are going online to search for (35%) and compare (29%) products or services. Shoppers want brands to remember them and 87% are okay with companies knowing more about them. Some 44% abandon purchases because something as basic as a product search function is missing.

Pandora is the most searched-for jewellery brand per month, according to the Jewellery Retailers Insight Report produced by Inside Online.

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry has welcomed the Business Secretary’s commitment to continue to reform corporate governance. He said: ‘At the very top of Government, we now see recognition of the scale and impact of poor payment practice by too many larger businesses and that more needs to be done. These practices place small firms under financial pressure and at risk of closure, with eight out of ten small businesses now reporting being paid late. This holds back economic growth right across the UK.’

Interest rates were kept on hold at 0.5% by the Bank of England. Markets are pricing in an 80% chance of a rise on May 10.

Instagram has launched Shopping in the UK, which enables consumers on the social media platform to seamlessly purchase products directly from businesses.

Consumer spending growth will slow to around 1.1% this year, down from 1.8% in 2017, before rising to 1.3% next year, according to accountancy firm PwC.

Alan Monahan