Posts Tagged ‘recession’
Poundland, whose slogan – if you can call it a slogan – is ‘Everything’s £1’ has started to slash prices in some of its stores to 97p, in a bid to undercut its closest rivals, 99p Stores. Depressed yet?
It seems the battle of the not-quite-a-pound shops has been heating up in such UK hotspots as East Ham and Dudley, and competition to sell mop heads, pegs and One Cup teabags for less than a pound is getting fierce.
Jim McCarthy, chief executive of Poundland, explained the move to Retail Week.
‘It is those early weeks [when a rival opens] that are very important and if you can pop the balloon early we find that doing that rather than nothing at all is helpful,’ Mr McCarthy said.
(Balloons – 97p).
‘And it sends the message that we’re not a soft touch.’ He added.
(Soft Touch toilet paper – 97p).
‘It’s a bit like when a supermarket has a competitor opening nearby. They have hosts of tactics to dampen the impact.’
(5 pack of Tictacs – 97p)
It makes the mind boggle. What must the rubbish they sell actually be worth? 10p? 5p? 1p? If pound shop price wars continue, one day, everything will cost nothing, and we’ll just all stick our heads in a massive branded trough with FREE written on it, and consume knock off Mini Cheddars until we explode.
Not only do the over 60s have to be worried about who they may or may not have groped at the BBC in the 1970s – they’re also suffering a major debt crisis.
Over-60s owe an average of £23,000, a figure which is up 40% since the recession, according to debt charity Step Change. The problem is credit cards – seems that today’s beige warriors are more than happy to pay for M&S ready meals and Steradent on tick. And it doesn’t help that state pensions are miniscule.
Neil Duncan-Jordan, from the National Pensioners Convention, said: ‘People just don’t have the income to be able to sustain their lifestyle. The number of old people going to food banks is increasing. The number going for debt advice is increasing. The number of people really really struggling, usually in silence, is increasing.’
At the time when older people should be warming their hard working feet in their Big Slippers and feeling secure, it seems that the financial crisis has left us all completely shafted, whether we’re just starting out or winding down. Let’s all put a bottle of gin on the credit card and wait for death, shall we?
Thanks to TV shows like Changing Rooms and Tommy from Garden Force’s Creosote Challenge, Britain used to be in the grip of DIY fever. A bank holiday meant agonising hours trying to put up shelves, or destroying nature by replacing it with acres of decking. But NO MORE.
According to figures from Lloyd TSB, spending on DIY has been falling for five years in a row. In 2012, households spent £10.5 billion on DIY – which is £800 million less than in 2011, and a third less than in 2004, when we went crazy and spent £15.5 billion on grout and gazebos.
In Broken Britain, a lot of us don’t have the skills to do even the simplest DIY tasks. And in another survey by Aviva, they found that one in five young adults between 18 and 24 don’t own a hammer, screwdriver or spanner. Instead, we’d get a man in, but we can’t afford to pay them at the moment – with spending on tradesmen dropping by £4m.
So what are we doing instead? Well, we’re putting our feet up, having a beer and watching Britain’s Got Talent, while weeds grow outside and the roof slowly caves in. And I think we can all agree that’s so much better than standing in B&Q wondering whether to buy No More Nails or Unibond.
With most people struggling to make ends meet and trying to make breakfast by gluing the crumbs in the toaster together with tears, there’s not much money left for little luxuries.
But according to the Mintel Lifestyle survey, people are trying to make themselves feel better by beautifying themselves. Sales of beauty products went up by 11% per person since 2007, when the financial crisis hit. This so called ‘lipstick effect’, apparently happens when recession-hit women (and transvestites) just want to cheer themselves up with something cheap.
The survey also found that people are doing more cooking from scratch at home, including baking, inspired by such shows as the Great British Bore Off.
However, all this cooking while wearing make-up doesn’t seem to be making us happy. Only half of Brits said they were satisfied with their standard of living – compared to 60% in 2008. So it seems that we’d still rather be sunning ourselves on a yacht with Kanye than standing in Debenhams wondering whether to splurge our meager wages on a Clinque chubby stick or a silicon baking tin.
As austerity rumbles on, we all just need to keep going and look on the bright side. And at least we’ll look nice when we’re standing on the street with our ‘Homeless and Hungry’ signs.
As millions of people reject organic broccoli for other broccoli that tastes the same but costs less, organic products are being left on the shelf like a plain girl called Joan at a school dance.
Unsurprisingly, sales of organic products are being affected by the recession, leading to a 1.5% fall from last year – which continues their slow fall from grace. (Sales were down by 3.7% the year before).
In their annual report, The Soil Association also blames supermarkets for not bigging up organic products enough. Despite Bumfords with straw hats and acoustic guitars accounting for 16% of all sales, it’s a far cry from those heady days of 2008, when we were wallowing in baths of beetroot juice and hemp flavoured sausages, and spending £2.1bn on organic products.
However things aren’t all doom and gloom for organic farmers. Specialist retailers and online businesses are going strong with Ocado increasing their organic produce by 6.4%. In news that will shock nobody, most of these sales are concentrated in London, amongst people called Sebastian who bake their own black olive and sumac rolls.
Back in the real world, it just goes to show that when our pockets are practically empty, most people don’t give a monkey’s – 10p pickled onion Space Raiders will do just fine, ta.
If current trends continue, it looks like Britain’s high streets will soon become ghost towns featuring the occasional lone branch of Cash Converters. Accountancy gurus PwC and retail analysts the Local Data Company say the amount of empty shops soared last year, with chains shutting an average of 20 shops a day.
Thanks to big name chains like Clintons, Comet, Jessops and HMV going into administration there were a total of 7,337 closures in Britain, ranging from 1,281 in London to 353 in Scotland and 213 in Wales.
Not surprisingly, online shopping was mostly blamed for the amount of store closures, as well as businesses who had opened too many stores and had spread themselves too thinly over a number of channels.
But it’s not all bad news! Pound shops, pay day lenders and shitty shitty shops selling dried twig flower arrangements and ‘hilarious’ Lady Gaga masks continued to thrive.
So is the high street worth saving? Or will the march of progress inevitably turn it into a dystopian wasteland of pawned Argos ‘MUM’ rings, stolen stereos and remaindered Lance Armstrong autobiographies?
Soon, the highstreets of Britain will have 25 new Albemarle & Bond pawnbrokers on them in a clear sign that the public aren’t dealing with this recession at all. With banks not helping anyone out, it appears that people are selling their possessions to get through it.
One slightly more cheerful element to this is that the opening of these outlets will create around 300 jobs.
Barry Stevenson chief executive, noting the subdued rents on the highstreet, said: “Since the recession, retail rates for highstreet locations have finally returned to a sensible level, which allows us to be where our services are needed.”
“However, compared to places like the US, the pawnbroking market here is still drastically underserved. We intend to address that through our expansion into new locations and by developing new channels to help people access our services more easily”.
This, combined with gold buyers and the new crop of payday loan firms are stepping in where the banks are failing.
“With fewer people able to get credit through the banks, pawnbroking has an opportunity to play an increasingly important role in many people’s finances, whether they need some quick cash to get the car through its MOT, or run a business and need some cash to tide them over until a customer pays,” Mr Stevenson added.
Actually, it is more windy than rainy here today, but those cheerful sorts over at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) figured that what everyone needed on a grim Monday morning was a new report about how bad everything has got, and how bad it’s going to stay, particularly for poorer households and families with children, who will be most affected by post-recession tax and benefit reforms.
This latest recession is apparently the worst for over sixty years, and as part of a new cross-country study the IFS have now seen fit to capitalise this Great Recession in a new report that looks at living standards in the UK and how they compare around the world.
The report uses quite a lot of long words but essentially says that “UK households were relatively insulated from the immediate impacts of the Great Recession”, owing to the welfare system and Governmental financial support, although “much of this protective effect was concentrated on households in the bottom half of the income distribution.”
However, as we enter the new age of austerity, with words like “cuts”, “deficits” and “lack of funding” bandied about everywhere, household incomes now look set to be squeezed for a considerable length of time as governments attempt to repair their public finances. The report found that, in 2010-11, earnings, state benefits and tax credits all fell in real terms (ie after accounting for inflation) in the UK. IFS researchers estimate that this is likely to have led to a fall in household income of 3.5%, the largest single-year drop since 1981, and meaning we are all going back to 2003/04 in financial terms.
The IFS conclude that most of the impact of the Great Recession on UK living standards was not felt until after the ‘official’ end of the recession, but that “the pain was most definitely delayed rather than avoided.” The IFS have previously warned that the end of economic pain was not nigh, and they reiterate their findings that living standards look set to continue to decline until at least 2013/14.
And if capitalising Great and Recession were not dramatic enough, the IFS are claiming the projections would mean the UK had experienced one of the worst decades for changes in living standards since at least the Second World War. Those who were around for Rationing may disagree. Slightly
However, the IFS report also looks at who is worst affected. Planned tax and benefit reforms in the post-recession period have reduced total net household income by about 5% by 2014/15. Policy changes hitting households include the rise in VAT to 20%, changes to the way benefit increases are calculated and a series of aggregate cuts to tax credits and Housing Benefit. These cuts to welfare spending are expected to save the Government £18 billion per year in total by 2014/15, but it is those with the lowest incomes are set to lose the most from these reforms as a percentage of income- the bottom fifth of the population will lose at least 6% of their lowest incomes.
The report also shows that families with children are to be hit harder by these reforms than other family types, on average, owing largely to the freezing of Child Benefit and the reforms to Child Tax Credit and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. The IFS also predicts that child poverty will rise in each of the 3 years between 2010/11 and 2013/14, and that it will be about 2 percentage points higher in 2013/14 as a result of the tax and benefit reforms planned by the current Government.
In fact, it seems the only winners at the moment are, surprisingly, pensioners. A contributing factor is that annual increases in the Basic State Pension will become more generous. Hence, unlike for families with children, tax and benefit reforms look set to continue to favour pensioners.
Melodramatic or no, it certainly seems to be the case that those who thought they were OK during the worst of the recession are now finding that this may not be the case. And if the economists are right, we may have to wait another 2-3 years until the light is switched back on at the end of the tunnel.
If you’re one of the 12,000 holiday makers currently abroad thanks to Holidays 4 U and Agean Flights, you’re probably going to be there a little longer than expected. Also, you’re probably not reading this. Regardless, the Brighton-based company which operates both brands has gone into administration.
Any passengers who have booked through a travel agent but not yet travelled are advised to contact the agent. There are further contact details on the now-threadbare Holidays 4 U website.
Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers are pinning the troubles on the recession. The majority of the 18 staff have been made redundant.
This recession has totally shagged the British pub industry. The big figure has been that 52 pubs have closed per week. That’s a staggering and, quite frankly, shitty amount of boozers to lose.
However, after relentless gloom ladling, here’s something a little more cheerful. Last week, a report came out saying that beer sales are finally getting better. These sales are far from brilliant, but progress is progress. So is it time to be cautiously optimistic for British pubs?
The Publican reported yesterday that pub performance is improving. Naturally, the first lot to show signs of recovery are the big chain pubs. However, this news was followed by new data compiled for the British Beer and Pub Association by CGA Strategy, showing that the second half of 2009 saw 39 pubs closing per week. It’s still crap, but it’s definitely not as crap as it was, meaning that things could be getting better for our ale houses.
A total of 2,365 pubs closed during 2009, leaving us with 52,500 in Britain. What this transpires to is a loss of over £250 million in tax revenues this year, if the current closure level continues. There’s a whole lot of people losing their jobs too, which is something that news outlets seems less keen on reporting.
However, the BBPA is warning the Government that they should be looking at way to help pubs out to avoid intensifying problems. The tax burden remains the biggest issue, and the government is apparently planning another above inflation increase in Beer Tax in the forthcoming Budget.
This increase in the complexity and cost of running a pub is ensuring that our ‘free houses’ are suffering more than any other pub. These closures have lead to a group forming called Back The Pub which is a campaign which hopes to bring together all those with an interest in supporting and promoting the British pub.
While it seems that things are a long way from being sorted, things are certainly looking up for the British pub. Now, who fancies a scoop?
At Bitterwallet we’ve made our living over the past year by propagating idle speculation and wild gossip. But even we can’t hold a candle to the BBC, who this morning raised the spirits of a nation by declaring the UK economy was on the road to recovery, only to drag us back into “the longest recession on record” three hours later.
0814 – “Figures due later are expected to show that the UK economy grew slightly from July to September, meaning the recession is over”:
1136 – “The UK economy unexpectedly contracted by 0.4% between July and September, according to official figures, meaning the country is still in recession”:
Cheap, available mortgages from Swedish, Israeli and Chinese banks are becoming increasingly popular as the UK mortgage market continues to splutter along in first gear. The eligibility criteria is also looser which could be good news if you’re self-employed or have quirky income patterns.
According to The Times, Bank Of China is offering tracker rates from 3% for borrowers who can provide a 25% deposit, with a minimum fee of £995, and is undercutting UK lenders on buy-to-lets. HSBC are offering a similar tracker deal, but some applicants are having to wait as long as eight weeks before getting a decision, meaning that they are likely to miss out on the house they’re trying to buy.
The number of mortgages available from UK lenders has fallen by 59% to 2,242 over the past year and one in ten home sales have collapsed in the past three months after the potential buyers were unable to obtain funding.
Have you been stuck in the mortgage mire lately and would you consider looking outside of the UK as you attempt to raise the cash for a house purchase? Are the banks shooting themselves and the UK economy in the foot with their stingy approach? Or will the whole thing result in another credit crunch? Let us know what you think in the little box underneath this bit.
Okay, we’ll start this one with an opening line you’d expect to hear on the ITV Evening News or The One Show…
More and more landlords are shouting ‘last orders’ for the final time as the number of pub closures in Britain increases by the week.
There. That felt good. Apart from the stuff about all the pubs closing. But if they’re shit ones, who really cares?
New stats show that pubs were closing at a rate of 52 a week in the first half of this year, with smaller communities like Emmerdale affected by the closures. However, continental café-type bars are opening at a rate of two a week, and pubs that serve food are more likely to survive in the current climate.
Factors blamed for the pub slump include increased alcohol taxes, the smoking ban, that thing about sitting around at home in your pants and drinking alone becoming cool, the recession (obviously) and there being loads of shit-hot stuff on Bitterwallet to read all the time instead of going out.
So then, the pubs and that. Do you frequent them as much as you used to? If not why not? And how? And when? Mmm? Eh?
Just like The One Show wasn’t it? Textbook.
You get to read Bitterwallet for free and yes, you’re very welcome. In fact you can read any high quality news source online for nothing, but that may not be the case for much longer.
The daily rags are currently getting turned over by the bull-necked stooges that are the recession and the internet. The recession isn’t something the newspaper industry could easily dodge; the same can’t be said for the internet. Many failed to conceive that online could ever replace print; even just a few years ago, an exec at the Daily Mail famously stated the internet would never be a place for breaking news. Newspapers have been slow to embrace new technology, and many still refuse to publish content online and choose to sit on stories until they appear in print.
Websites are stripping the industry of every selling point and cash cow they have. Want classifieds? There’s Craigslist. Breaking news? Try Twitter. Photos? Got Flickr. Comment and opinion? Millions of blogs. Recruitment? Take your pick. And the effects are savage; UK newspaper revenues started declining rapidly last Summer while the US industry has been on the skids since 2006, as a graph that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a business-based sitcom clearly demonstrates:
The recession can be blamed in part, but revenue was falling long before it began. So what are newspapers to do about it? One judge in the US has suggested banning hyperlinks, while the New York Times is considering making online content available only to subscribers.
The plan is to charge subscribers to the paper edition $30 a year for online access, and non-subscribers $60 a year. If the decision is approved, it wouldn’t be the first time the NYT has attempted it; in 2007, 200,000 subscribers paid for access to archives and columnists but the revenues were considered too small to be worthwhile.
The difficulty in making online subscriptions work is that sites need to either serve a specialist audience or have strong brand loyalty. In this instance, online readers will simply go elsewhere for generic news and events coverage. But the New York Times is a respected brand, and execs will be hoping they can persuade a reasonable percentage of the millions of online users that $5 is a fair price. Memo to NYT execs: after years of providing all that stuff for free, they probably won’t think it is.
So far there no UK broadsheets and tabloids have announced similar plans, but since they’re fresh out of all other ideas, expect somebody to try charging you for their news in the not too-distant future.
The other day, we mentioned that video gamers are buying fewer new titles and are renting more games to support their habit during the current recession, yet they actually spend more time playing than ever. One US gamer/collector named JJ Hendricks has defied that trend by paying $17,500 US – around £10,700 – for one of only 26 known copies of a special edition gold Nintendo World Championships made for a competition in 1990.
But Hendricks, a video game collector, was pleased with his purchase, considering it an absolute bargain. This is because it was 30% off the asking price of $25,000 on eBay, equivalent to about £15,400.
The game consists of segments of three NES titles: Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris, which all must be completed in 6 minutes, 21 seconds. Oh, the excitement.
Are there any “Holy Grail” video games you’d fork over thousands of pounds for? And could it be time to dig out and sell some of those vintage titles you left in that case in your mum’s attic?