UK retail sales’ sluggish new year start as cash-strapped Brits go online to nab deals

UK retail sales remained muted in January following December’s fall, with fuel sales spiking and prices continuing to plummet.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the figures which showed retail sales volumes increased by just half a per cent last month.

This comes after it dipped by 1.2 per cent in December, despite the annual festive shopping rush.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that UK inflation had dropped for the third straight month in a row, as Britain swerved a technical recession – though fears it may still fall into one have no disappeared.

Despite being 0.5 per cent up on December, volumes were  still 1.4 per cent down on pre-Covid levels, and 0.9 per cent down in the three months to January overall. Compared to the previous year however, they fell by 5.7 per cent.

The cost of living crisis and energy crisis has continued to … Read more

End of cash? Barclays says record 91 per cent of transactions were contactless last year

Just over nine in 10 (91.2 per cent ) card transactions made last year where paying by contactless would have been an option did use this technology, according to data from Barclays.

The bank said this is the highest proportion it has seen, with 85.6 per cent  of eligible card transactions being contactless in 2021.

Transactions that were eligible to be contactless were those made face-to-face or in-store, up to the value of the contactless card limit, which is currently £100.

“Silver spenders” are helping to drive up contactless use. Barclays said the fastest growth in contactless use it has been seeing is among the over-65 age group.

In 2022, 82.6 per cent  of cardholders aged over 65 were using contactless, up from 78.8 per cent  in 2021, according to Barclays’ data.

Across all age groups, contactless users made an average of 220 “tap and go” transactions last year, up … Read more

Getting To Know You: Dr. Vidal J Bharath, Chief Commercial Officer, Bramble Energy

Dr. Vidal J Bharath, talks about the inspiration behind his fuel cell technology company which has seen them become a finalist in the scale-up and market disruptor category of the 2023 Business Champion Awards

What do you currently do at ‘Bramble Energy’

Having started at Bramble Energy as its Chief Operations Officer, I oversaw its growth from just three employees to its current 75. I have now moved into the Chief Commercial Officer role as we rapidly scale and commercialise our technology with go-to-market partners to decarbonise a wide range of applications and industries.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Starting out as just an idea in the labs, our company was founded as a spin-out of UCL and Imperial College London by our CEO, Dr Tom Mason, with an overriding ambition to help the world transition to net zero. Solving the climate crisis is the biggest challenge humanity … Read more

The Business Enabler of the Year Award finalists revealed

This Business Champions Award celebrates businesses who help their customers or clients to increase sales and profitability through a competitive advantage.

Recognising the impact of ‘enablers’ that offer value beyond products, infrastructure and services and instead delivering more customers, clients or revenue for businesses certainly deserves a round of applause.

For a business to be constantly innovating to support its clients, as their unsung heroes in many cases, it doesn’t just need to be ahead of the curve, it needs to set the curve. To achieve this aim the CEO needs to lead and inspire the entire team to be constantly analysing their work and data perceptions coupled with market trends, potential new verticals and competitors as well as innovation from their current and potential new suppliers. These businesses assist with enabling business to make better, more informed decisions about their futures whilst always keeping an eye on the financials … Read more

SME loan rejections rise as banks further increase cautiousness

Banks are reducing their appetite to fund small and medium-sized companies, according to brokers handling loan applications.

Asked by the alternative lender iwoca if high street banks were becoming more cautious, 82 per cent of the brokers said that they were, with 49 per cent saying they had seen more applications rejected in December compared with the previous month.

The main reasons given by the banks for the rejections were that the applicants did not have enough months of trading — in 20 per cent of cases — followed by poor credit histories and high existing indebtedness. The businesses were seeking money to support business growth and day-to-day working capital needs. The poll covered brokers submitting more than 2,000 applications in December.

Colin Goldstein, director of commercial at iwoca, said: “With brokers predicting that the impact of current macroeconomic pressures this year will be worse than the pandemic for small … Read more