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Retail news round-up: consumers value independents; risky business; shoppers prefer debit cards

Almost half (44%) of British consumers interviewed by YouGov said that the way independent retailers make them feel valued made it more likely they would shop with them. However, just 22% of those polled said they currently visit an independent retailer in the first place, with 44% of those polled stating that, compared to the big chains, they needed to offer better value for money.

New research by the Federation of Small Business shows that 65% of small businesses and the self-employed do not have any plan to cope with potential disruption risks to their business operations or their supply chains.
The most prevalent risks to small firms were customers who failed to pay for services or goods (51%) as well as the loss of key members of staff (37%).

Last year, debit card payments (13.2 billion) overtook the number made with cash (13.1 billion) for the first time, according to UK Finance, the trade association for the banking and financial services sector.

Stuart Laing, executive chairman of Laings and previously CEO and founder of the Houlden Group, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for his services to the jewellery industry.

Following an investigation by the Financial Reporting Council,
PricewaterhouseCoopers has been fined £10m for its handling of the BHS audits and the Taveta Group in 2014, while audit partner Steve Denison was fined £500,000 and banned from doing any audit work for 15 years. They are the highest ever penalties handed out by the regulator, but will be reduced by 35% for early settlement.
Meanwhile, Dominic Chappell, who bought BHS for £1 from Sir Philip Green, is said to be considering legal action over the discredited audit.
The Local Government Association has revealed that more than 133,000 companies are still waiting for an appeal over their business rates valuation from 2010.

Despite City forecasts for a rise of 2.5%, inflation stayed at 2.4% in May with the consumer prices index remaining at its join-lowest level since March 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics.

An analysis by property consultancy Colliers International reveals that 11.6m sq ft of retail space – equivalent to 180 football pitches – has been handed back to landlords because of administrations, company voluntary arrangements and planned store closures this year.

The Advertising Standards Agency has upheld complaints from two customers over the cost of Christmas dinner in print advertisements for Marks & Spencer last December. The retailer claimed that its ingredients were ‘£10 cheaper than 2016’ and it was ‘the only supermarket where Christmas dinner costs less than last year’.
However, the ad didn’t make it clear that two products had been replaced with cheaper alternatives, said the watchdog, and it was ‘likely to mislead consumers’. Also, M&S ‘did not provide any comparative evidence’ with other supermarkets.

Alan Monahan