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Retail news round-up: Banking your takings; online fraud; singles day boom

Dame Colette Bowe, chairwoman of the Banking Standards Board, has told the Treasury select committee that the closure of thousands of bank branches in recent years was ‘very much a small business issue’ and ‘If you are trying to bank your takings and you have to drive 20 miles … that’s not good.’ She said the matter needed to ‘get higher up everybody’s agenda’.

Separately, a survey by consumer group Which? reveals that the UK has 7,586 bank and building society branches, compared to the 20,583 that, according to parliamentary records, existed 30 years ago.

 Almost a third (31%) of 16 to 24-year-olds have been victims of online shopping fraud, according to secure payment provider Shieldpay. This compares with just 12% of over 55s, And younger victims suffered significant losses – an average of £613, some £276 more than older people.

A combination of growth in online shopping, shift to in-home leisure, heightened restructuring activity and ongoing digitalisation of services has seen the half-year net reduction in stores on Britain’s high streets reach record levels, according to research compiled for PwC by the Local Data Company. A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Great Britain’s top 500 high streets in the first half of this year as only 1,569 shops opened, compared to 2,692 (H1 2017 net loss: -222 stores).

Visitors to Alibaba, China’s online shopping site, reportedly spent £770m in just 85 seconds on deals going live on Singles Day, the 24-hour shopping event. The overall sales total of £23.8bn smashed last year’s record total of £19.7bn.

Retail sales growth was the slowest for six months in October, with the Office for National Statistics reporting that sales dipped 0.5% on September,

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, more than 15 million Brits lack the confidence to make an effective complaint and therefore miss out on getting their money back, a replacement product, or having an issue satisfactorily dealt with.

A new Retailer Protocol aims to give confidence that if a suspicion of modern slavery is discovered in the supply chain and the authorities alerted, retailer customers will seek to support the supplier in question along the way, so long as it is not culpable. The protocol has been developed in partnership between retailers, the British Retail Consortium, the Government’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Stronger Together, as well as through consultation with supply chain partners.

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that inflation was unchanged at 2.4% in October, with consumer prices matching the slowest annual rate of growth since March 2017.

Purple Tuesday, the UK’s first accessible shopping day, took place on November 13 to recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers and promote inclusive shopping. Launch partners included Argos, Marks & Spencer, Landsec, Sainsbury’s and the British Retail Consortium, with participating retailers promoting their involvement on the day, with events taking place on high streets and in shopping centres. As well as endorsing and promoting Purple Tuesday, every participant must make at least one long-term commitment aimed at improving the experience for their disabled customers going forward.

Alan Monahan