Retail news round-up: Candle sales; footfall; Brexit sellers

Independent gift shops are driving a big increase in the sale of candles, according to a report from retail software company Vend. Its data reveals that sales spike on Mother’s Day and over the festive period and that Brits are buying an average of six candles a year at £7.40 a time.

‘Consumers have been cautious in their spending, leading to the biggest drop in February footfall for five years,’ said British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson. She added that the BRC-Springboard figures – which showed a 2% decline – echoed poor retail sales and weak growth, particularly in bricks-and-mortar stores. Visa’s UK Consumer Spending Index, compiled by IHS Markit, continued to signal relatively subdued expenditure trends in February, with overall spending falling by -1.8% on the year.

Morrisons’ chief executive Dave Potts has reported that its customers are stockpiling painkillers and lavatory paper ahead of Brexit. And grow-your-own ‘Brexit Survival Kits’ – a business idea that started as a joke with Franchi Seeds founders – have proved a big hit with people worried about potential food shortages after Brexit, and Remainers buying them for friends.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, has retained his position as the world’s richest person in Forbes latest list of billionaires. His wealth is estimated at $131 bn.

Euromonitor International’s latest Megabrands Top 100 ranking of the most successful fast-moving consumer goods’ brands worldwide has placed Coca-Cola in first place. The remaining top 10 spots are filled by Pepsi, Nescafe, Lay’s, L’Oreal Paris, Red Bull, Pampers, Tide/Ariel, Nivea and Huggies. Twenty-five per cent of the megabrands are beauty and care names.

Around 20 million ‘tap and go’ payments took place every day last year – meaning one in three card transactions is now contactless, figures from trade association UK Finance Show. It said contactless card spending surged by nearly a third in 2018 year-on-year. A total of £69 billion was spent across the UK over the using contactless cards, up by 31.8% compared with 2017. Of this £58.4 billion was spent on debit cards and £10.6 billion was spent on credit cards.

UK managing director Eric Leenders said: ‘Many of us are now reaching for our cards or mobiles rather than cash to make low-value purchases, as customers opts for the convenience and security of paying with contactless.

‘There has also been an increase in credit card use although growth in outstanding balances has slowed, suggesting many consumers are using cards for day-to-day spending rather than as a means of borrowing.’

According to the Birmingham Assay Office, gold hallmarking fell by 10.1% in February compared with the same month last year, with overall volumes down 5.4%.

Alan Monahan