Posts Tagged ‘prices’

id mobile 264x300 Price plans for Carphone Warehouses iD networkCarphone Warehouse have revealed the price plans for their new mobile phone network, iD. It officially launches today.

So what’s the craic? Well, you’ll be able to take out a ”shockproof” 4G contract from £7.50 per month, which are designed so you avoid any “nasty surprises” according to those at Carphone Warehouse. With that, you get 150 minutes, 5,000 texts and 250MB of data and a Lumia 635 smartphone for no up-front cost.

There’s also a bunch of “takeaway” plans from £25.50 per month for 24 months, which gives you free roaming abroad (22 countries), which is handy if you work away a lot. If you prefer, there’s SIM-only plans from £7.50 per month, and data-only plans from £5 a month.

As well as these, there’s a number of ”go to” plans, which gives you a load of data and 12 month deals start at £13.50 per month and 24 month plans from £11.50 per month.

“iD gives increased flexibility and value to customers who are getting increasingly frustrated with the ‘one size fits all’ approach,” said Graham Stapleton, UK chief executive at Carphone Warehouse. ”Launching with a range of plans – including 12 and 24 month contracts alongside 30 day options – means we can offer solutions based on how customers actually use their mobile phone.”

Homebuyers’ confidence is down

July 28th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

 Homebuyers confidence is down Consumer confidence is a funny, fragile thing. Sometimes it’s riding higher than Prince on a purple motorbike, the next it’s like a teenage girl in the Top Shop changing room worrying about the size of her thighs.

This time, homebuyers’ confidence has taken a blow – it’s dropped by 35% and is now at its lowest level for three years, thanks to fears about inflated prices and increased interest rates. That’s according to the Halifax quarterly Housing Market Confidence Tracker.

And it’s not surprising that the most tentative homebuyers are in London and the South East, while the ones with the most devil-may-care attitude are from Scotland and the North East.

Their survey found that there was a recent sharp rise in people who say that they can’t afford to buy because of prices going up. (from 20% last year to 35% this year).

However, people are still confident that they will manage to SELL their homes, even though they might not be able to afford their next one. A quarter of people surveyed said that this year was a good time to sell up and get out.

Craig McKinlay from the Halifax said:

‘Over the past two years consumer confidence has continued to grow, however it appears that we’ve reached a tipping point, with the equilibrium between buyers and sellers much more out of sync.’

Forget farmer’s markets – go to Tesco

June 23rd, 2014 3 Comments By Lucy Sweet

farmers markets 8 Forget farmers markets   go to TescoEver been to a farmer’s market and someone’s tried to sell you a Scotch egg for £3.50? 3 pounds bloody fifty.

But this is the way at farmer’s markets – the minute people see a blackboard with ‘Artisan’ written on it, they lose their minds and spend a fiver on a loaf of bread that tastes exactly the same as the one you get from the shops.

Actually, it COULD be the one you get at Tesco. That’s because a lot of small producers – who charge you through the nose for a tomato or a pie at a farmer’s market- are also flogging their stuff to the major supermarkets.

So just because it’s sold to you by the producer from a gingham cloth, it doesn’t mean you can’t find the same product cheaper in a shop.

For example, Green’s of Glastonbury cheese, which sells at various markets, is actually owned by West Country Cheese, which supply to Waitrose. The Five Ways Fruit Farm, who appear at 200 markets around the UK, also sell to Asda.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Producers obviously have to factor in the cost of a market stall, transport and labour, and supplying to supermarkets is cheaper, but even so – customers think they’re buying something unique and special.

And apparently behind your average farmer’s market, there may also be devilment and subterfuge. It’s common for farmers looking to supplement their stock to pass off Spanish fruit as home grown, and buy potatoes with mud on them for that authentic rustic look. Meanwhile, provenance-obsessed dimwits snap it all up, in pursuit of culinary perfection.

Obviously, we don’t need to be told that Farmer’s Markets are an expensive business, but it seems that people should be told that lots of small producers aren’t really that small at all – and that you can buy two packs of their precious, astronomically priced hand-cured bacon for a fiver at Ye Olde Sainsburys.

House prices are ‘off the boil’

June 16th, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

property ladder House prices are ‘off the boil’ Just when you thought you could sell a gas meter cupboard in London for £350,000, ridiculously inflated house prices appear to have peaked. Put simply, prices have gone so high that nobody can bloody afford them – not even ludicrously rich oligarchs.

Rightmove has announced that far from soaring, house prices in England and Wales are at a ‘virtual standstill’ in June, despite going up by 3.2% in May.

In fact, some prices have been going DOWN. London’s prices have dipped by 0.5% this month, with other regions falling month-on-month.

Don’t start fantasising about a pied-a-terre in the capital, though – despite the drop, London prices are still up 14.5% on last year, and the average house sits at an eye-watering £589,776.

Why is it happening? Well, the reason is that people are putting more houses on the market, hoping to cash in on the boom, while buyers are exercising more caution due to worry about the possible interest rate rise (and the fact that stricter mortgage rules mean that they can’t actually afford to repay £589,776 in the first place).

Rightmove said: ‘Some sellers will be looking to cash in and possibly get a lot more house for their money further out, but they may have missed the peak in the rush to realise their gains as parts of London appear to have hit the upper limit price buffer.’

So will common sense one day prevail? Will we see an end to £140 million penthouses in Hyde Park? Will normal, regular people who don’t own fur coats and crowns one day be able to buy in London?

Justin+King Sainsburys sales fall AGAIN as Justin King jumps shipSainsbury’s bigwig Justin King is getting ready to move on to pastures new, but not before announcing that Sainsbury’s like-for-like sales have dropped again.

It’s the second time that Sainsbury’s have reported a loss –previous to that, it had nine unblemished, consecutive years of growth.

So what’s the problem? Well, we all know the impact that the budget supermarkets have had on the more mid-range stores, but they’re also feeling the pinch of food deflation – all those £1 cartons of milk are starting to take their toll on sales figures.

Mr King said, while clearing his desk and packing his bags for Florida:

‘Lower food price inflation and reduced fuel prices are a welcome respite to customers’ finances but they continue to spend cautiously, leading to industry growth in the quarter being the slowest in a decade. Throughout the quarter we have continued to invest in reducing prices and improving quality, increasing the value of our offer.’

But is this approach working? King says he’s confident that the strategy will still put them in a better position than Tesco, who are struggling with their worst quarter in 40 years.

However, it remains to be seen whether that strategy will change when group commercial director Mike Coupe takes over in July. After all, their Taste the Difference posh range was up 10% this quarter, which surely points at a need for them to become more upmarket, rather than reduce prices to compete with the budget supermarkets?

Honestly, let me give them a 10 minute Powerpoint presentation and I’ll sort it myself.

Bank of England Guv’nor Mark Carney is considering putting caps on mortgages to dampen the too-hot property market before the whole thing melts like a Fab lolly on a sunlounger.

For+sale+signs 300x198 PROPERTY PANIC: House prices rise by £10,000 in the last month

That’s after news from Rightmove that property prices have risen in the last month by a ludicrous £10,000, inflating the price of the average home to record high of wait for it… £272 And if it continues, the whole thing is going to explode in a big sticky mess of economic doom.

Of course, in reality most properties aren’t worth nearly as much as that. It’s London, of course, that is skewing the figures in this ludicrous fashion. In the capital asking prices have gone up by £80,000 in 2014, whereas in the rest of the UK the rise has been a much less terrifying 4.9%.

But the Bank of England has warned that people may be forbidden to take out a mortgage worth many times more than their earnings. They want to introduce ‘affordability tests’ and are looking into whether the government’s Help to Buy scheme is fuelling the fire.

Carney said: ‘We could limit amounts of certain types of mortgages that banks could undertake, we could provide advice – the Chancellor has asked us if we would provide advice on changing the terms of Help to Buy – all those things are possibilities and we will consider them all.’

How about limiting the actions of the oligarchs and the billionaire property prospectors who’ve been allowed to snap up luxury flats in London and create the bubble in the first place?

Nah. Just punish young people who want to buy their first home instead.


While we’re all struggling just to pay our utility bills, with enough left over to buy a loaf of bread, the most expensive flat in London has just been sold for £140m.

one hyde park 300x289 A flat with no walls or floors sells for £140m

At the moment, the penthouse is just a shell, and it doesn’t even have any walls, floors or a bathroom (walls, floors and bathrooms are soooo passé). But that hasn’t stopped a mystery buyer, who is from Russia or Ukraine, from snapping it up.

It’s what’s called a ‘core and shell’ property, and the owner can decide where they want the walls afterwards, and where to install the swimming pool/home cinema/massive gold statue of a naked lady.

The 16,000 s.q foot pad has all the space that a deposed Ukranian prime minister – er, I mean random billionaire – could ever need, and the address, One Hyde Park, means that it’s as London as it gets, with views over the park on one side, and view of Harrods and Knightbridge on the other.

It’s also the highest asking price ever for a London flat. A mansion in Mayfair was on sale for £250m last year, but nobody had enough money to buy it. One Hyde Park is a magnet for moneybags, with all four penthouses now sold, mostly to foreign buyers.

But what does this mean for the rest of us, trying to get a foot on the property ladder? Well, it seems that the London housing bubble is in real danger of bursting, with John Cunliffe from the Bank of England saying :‘It would dangerous to ignore the momentum that has built up’ and that the property market has ‘contributed towards economic and financial instability’.

Still, nice gaff if you can afford it. Well, it will be when they put some walls in it.

Michael O Leary Ry 1208663i 300x276 Finally, a professor works out the Ryanair websiteThe mysterious algorithms that govern the Ryanair website have long baffled scholars, scientists and people trying to book a holiday. Not even Alan Turing could have cracked it.

But now, a new hero has emerged who can help us save money on our cheapo flights. His name is Claudio Piga, an economics professor from Keele University, and he’s devoted his life (well, some of it, anyway) to working out what the **** is going on with Ryanair’s ever changing prices.

Once it was thought that if there was an Easterly wind, you could get a return to Barcelona El Prat for £32.99. But if it blew from the West, they were £89.99. However, Piga has found an actual pattern, and has discovered that tickets are cheaper exactly TEN DAYS before your journey.

He also said that fares were bumped up by a shocking 50-75% in the last few days before departure, making last minute ‘bargains’ an impossibility. Planning ahead is a waste of time, too. If you book seven weeks in advance, you’ll pay more.

Of course Ryanair know that you might either want to book your holiday in good time, or do it on a whim at the last minute. But nobody has ever bothered to work out that low cost airline prices form ‘a U-shaped temporal profile.’ Until now.

Piga will present his findings – which are basically scientific proof that Ryanair are rip-off merchants – at the Royal Economic Society in Manchester this week. A Ryanair spokesman, of course, came out and said that the findings were ‘hopelessly inaccurate’ and that they sold tickets on a first come, first served basis.

Hmm. But who is more likely to be telling the truth? A learned professor of economics, or Michael O’Leary?

By 2020, your energy bill will look like a phone number. That’s the latest news from Which! who are predicting that energy companies will have to spend £118bn on updating ageing infrastructure between now and then.
energy bills 300x300 Annual energy bills set to rise by £600 a year, warns Which!

And are the energy fat cats going to take that out of their sherry bill or are we going to pay for it? Well, what do YOU think?

Which! has written to the Treasury prior to next week’s budget with a stark warning that the upgrade to the UK’s energy infrastructure could make bills skyrocket – leaving households with an average of £2000 a year to pay. And that’s a conservative estimate. If energy prices go up, we might be looking at a whole lot more.

Consumer firebrand Richard Lloyd has his pilot light set to stun, and said:

‘I don’t think consumers know that this is heading their way and that decision has already been made by the Government. This is a massive chunk potentially on everyone’s bills. This means one thing: that household bills are set to rise, and to rise for many people very steeply for the foreseeable future.’

Which! are campaigning for a full investigation into energy pricing. Meanwhile, we consumers will be quaking in our boots when the budget is announced, praying that we don’t get shafted even further.

The high street is now cheap as chips

March 5th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

We’re all used to hearing news that the high street is on its knees and retailers are openly weeping into the bins outside Claire’s Accessories as their empires crumble. And we’re all equally used to hearing how the cost of living has skyrocketed while our wages, er…haven’t.

falling prices The high street is now cheap as chips

But today, we can walk down the high street with a little spring in our step because the British Retail Consortium have announced that high street prices are falling at a record rate.

That’s right, we’re paying less and less in the shops, with goods costing an average of 1.4% less in February than in previous months. Some things went even lower, with clothing and shoes were 12% cheaper than last year.

February marked the tenth month in a row that deflation had occurred on the high street, and food inflation also feel slightly from 1.5% in January to 1.1%.

So can we look forward to paying even less for our stuff? Helen Dickinson from the BRC thinks so.

‘Many of the larger food retailers have been looking closely at their investment in ­promotions and price cuts, suggesting competition could intensify further.’


Which! airport train service is the worst?

February 25th, 2014 4 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Getting a train from the airport to a nearby city is usually an expensive business, but it’s over to everyone’s favourite consumer gods, Which! to tell us which one sucks the most.

gatwick express 300x300 Which! airport train service is the worst?

And the accolade for the crappiest airport train service goes to…THE GATWICK EXPRESS, which scored 60/100. Why? Because, as anyone who has ever been on it can testify, out of all the airport train services, it’s bad value for money at an always shocking £19.90 each way for a journey that lasts about half an hour. And they don’t even put on nice shiny trains.

The Heathrow and Stansted Express also scored low for value for money – but while the Stansted Express is a terrifying £23.40 each way, it scored higher marks for luggage space and comfort.

The best, easiest and cheapest London journey by far was the Docklands Light Railway from London City Airport. (And the DLR is also good because you can sit in the front seat and pretend to drive it.) But then, only business class types and golden gods can afford to fly from City airport.

Outside of London, regional airports scored highly for their train services, with the top spot occupied by Virgin Trains, whose cheap as chips and highly efficient rail service from Birmingham costs only £2.40.

Which! say that passengers need to complain more about the standard of train services from the big London airports, otherwise we’ll continue to be fleeced. Ricardo Lloyd spat:

‘There are unacceptably wide differences in the levels of customer satisfaction for airport trains, with many people especially unhappy about the high cost of some express services. Train companies must do more to listen to travellers’ views, which is why we’ve launched a campaign to Get Trains on Track, calling for a better response to complaints.’

Another Which! campaign. Don’t these people ever SLEEP?

If you want to get on the property ladder without breaking the bank, you could do worse than to search for houses on rude sounding streets. According to a survey by some website or other called, houses with ‘ooh, you are awful’ saucy addresses can be £84,000 cheaper than ones on say, Acacia Avenue or Bluebell Drive.

slag lane 300x239 Looking for a cheap house? Look no further than Crotch Crescent…

So get yourself down to Fanny Hands Lane in Lincolnshire, or snap up a SEMI in Turkey Cock Lane. (GEDDIT? Yes, I’m sure you do). And there’s a bargain to be had on Slag Lane in Lancashire. That was pinpointed in the survey as the second most embarrassing-sounding street to live on, with 26% of the 2000 people saying they didn’t want a Slag in their address.

The most embarrassing street name in Britain, however, goes to Minge Lane in Worcestershire, which quaintly shocked 31% of respondents.

But even though ordering a pizza to come to Minge Lane or Cockshoot Cresecent might be a bit of a MOUTHFUL, the price differences might change your mind. A detached house on Minge Lane is £253, 389, compared to a whopping £325,000 in nearby street called Longfield. And Slag Lane houses go for around £20,000 less than those in the innocuous sounding Fieldfare Close, up the road.

And Annie Gray, a proud resident of the Fanny Hands Lane, says it’s worth living there for the LOLZ, anyway. In fact, the name was the reason she bought a house there in the first place.

‘If you’re ever ordering anything and tell people your address, as soon as you say ‘Fanny’, they know exactly where you mean.’

Whoops! Asda is in the doldrums

February 21st, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

There’ll be no joyful patting of back pockets at Asda today, after they announced a disappointing 0.1% fall in sales in the 13 weeks to the 3rd of January. While 0.1% doesn’t exactly seem like a catastrophic figure, it marks the first fall in sales for the supermarket since 2010.

ASDA logo Whoops! Asda is in the doldrums

CEO Andy Clarke looked dolefully up from his Asda ham and pineapple pizza and made the usual comments about it being tough year, yadda yadda yadda.

‘It will come as no surprise that 2013 was a tough year for UK retailers and there’s little doubt that the UK retail market is undergoing significant and permanent structural change. Though the economy is showing signs of recovery, it is still susceptible to shocks and the benefit is not yet being felt right across the country.’

(Which, translated from Retail Speak, means ‘Aldi are better than us.’)

Having been blasted for artificially raising prices during the Christmas period so that they could offer Aldi/Lidl busting low prices in January, Asda don’t seem to be having much luck at the moment.
But it’s not stopping them from investing £200m in lowering more prices and spending £750m on a UK wide expansion programme.

But could it all be ill fated? Will the British public desert the Walmart-owned monster in favour of copycat Not Nobs biscuits and scuba diving equipment from our favourite German supermarket?

sale High street prices are deflating like a burst beach ballThe British Retail Consortium has announced the ninth month of deflation in a row, after retailers were forced to decrease prices to attract customers.

How low can you go? Well, prices are now 1% less than they were a year ago, as retailers resorted to desperate price cutting measures just to get punters through the doors.

As eagle eyed bargain hunters now demand discounts as their inalienable consumer right, and will browse the internet and go elsewhere for better value, high street prices have dropped like a drunken Sally Bercow onto a random guy in a nightclub. 1% might not seem like much, but it’s the steepest slide in prices since 2006.

Helen Dickinson of the BRC said:

‘Shop prices are falling at their fastest rate for seven years, a new record for our data. January is always a key month for sales and promotions, but discounts have been deeper and more widespread than last year and we are seeing this trend continuing.’

Prices in the January sale were 10% less than last year (WHOO!) with a 3.8% drop on the prices of furniture and carpets and a 1.8% drop in electricals.

Obviously, food has gone up and wages are stagnating, but who needs money and food when you’ve got a cheap PS4 and a massive DFS sofa?

House prices could go up by £13,500 this year

January 9th, 2014 5 Comments By Lucy Sweet

The Halifax have announced that by the end of 2014, the average home could be worth £187,000 – that’s a predicted 8% jump over the next 12 months.

For+sale+signs 300x198 House prices could go up by £13,500 this year

The Halifax added that monthly figures were often ‘volatile’, but quarterly figures showed a 1.9% increase- so there’s no doubt that there’s a housing bubble/upward trend continuing this year.

And sales are increasing, too, with the figure hitting the one million mark in 2013 – the highest since everything came crashing down in 2007. The property price index also showed that house sales were up for the seventh month in a row in November.

Of course, with healthy sales and fat profits comes that most precious thing of all – consumer confidence. In a poll by the Halifax, 51% of respondents said they thought 2014 was a good time to put their home on the market.

So, if it’s announced today that interest rates are staying put – as they’re expected to – then we’ve got ourselves another nice big bubble to live in – which will then BURST and leave us homeless and living in an Aldi carrier bag.

Enjoy it while it lasts!