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Retail round up - The Sunday papers.

Britain in battle over stagflation, One in five people went into debt to fund Christmas shopping, Belt-tightening set to pay off for clothing retailer Reiss, Focus seeks new rent deal in bid to survive, Specialist butchers and bakers breathe life back into the high street, Two rivals remain bidding for Blacks, GDP figures likely to show zero growth, HMV is chart-topper for short sellers...

SUNDAY PAPERS

Retail round up - The Sunday papers.

Britain in battle over stagflation, One in five people went into debt to fund Christmas shopping, Belt-tightening set to pay off for clothing retailer Reiss, Focus seeks new rent deal in bid to survive, Specialist butchers and bakers breathe life back into the high street, Two rivals remain bidding for Blacks, GDP figures likely to show zero growth, HMV is chart-topper for short sellers...

The Telegraph
New figures set to
confirm that growth has slowed, while unemployment and oil prices rise – a severe problem that blighted the 1970s.Fears are growing that the UK is running the risk of a period of painful "stagflation", as official figures should this week show that growth continued to slow down in the final three months of 2010.Analysts think the economy is already showing symptoms of stagflation – the toxic cocktail of stagnating growth and rising prices that leaves policymakers unable to tackle one problem without making the other worse. Households suffer, as the weak labour market means wages do not keep pace with wider price rises in the economy.The UK experienced a severe bout of stagflation in the 1970s, when the oil price shock contributed to larger contractions in output and a surge in inflation. Full article.

One fifth of consumers relied on credit cards, overdrafts and bank loans to fund their Christmas shopping this year and are now facing bills they are unable to pay, a survey has revealed.According to research conducted by digital banking provider IE, more than half of adults admit that they are in debt, with one third overdrawn or have an outstanding balance on credit cards.Younger consumers are the worst offenders, with 75pc of 18 to 24-year-olds admitting that they are in debt. In this age group, almost 40pc of those who have outstanding debts do not have a repayment plan or budget to fund it. Full article.

Reiss, the high street fashion retailer, expects earnings from its UK stores to rise by 40pc in its current financial year which ends next week.The company expects earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from the UK outlets to be around £12.7m, up from £9.1m last year, finance director Steven Downes said.Mr Downes said the privately-owned retailer has been reaping the benefits of changes that it imposed at the company in 2009.The prediction of good earnings growth came as Reiss's annual accounts for the year to January 31, 2010 were posted at Companies House. Full article.

 

The Independent

Focus, the DIY chain, is negotiating with its landlords for an extension of rent payments in order to survive.The group, which has 178 stores and employs 3,700 people around the country, wants to continue to pay rent on a monthly basis rather than for three months at a time. Focus has been struggling for several years but a recent sharp downturn in trading has deepened the crisis.Bill Grimsey, the Focus chairman, is visiting more than 100 landlords to ask for an extension to an agreement that was put in place in August 2009 as part of its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) which also saw the closure of 38 stores. The agreement, which was for monthly rent, is due to end in March.Full article.

Traditional high-street food shops are defying the odds with their strongest sales in years, as shoppers opt for local retailers rather than supermarkets, official figures have revealed.A boom in business for bakers, butchers and fishmongers is breathing life back into some of Britain's high streets, helping to compensate for the boarded-up shopfronts that have symbolised the recession.New bakers and butchers are opening up all over the country, ending a decades-long decline. Retail experts believe the resurgence reflects a growing demand for high-quality produce, from artisanal loaves to dry-aged beef, aided by television programmes that expose the nutritional inadequacy of many supermarket products. Full article.

The sale of Blacks Leisure is drawing to a close this week.It is thought two parties remain in the contest: outdoor clothing rival Go Outdoors and LDC (Lloyds TSB Development Capital). Blacks, the outdoor clothing specialist that also owns Millets, hired McQueen, a corporate finance advisory firm, in October to deal with the approaches. The 300-store retailer, boosted by the freezing weather, saw a 10.2 per cent rise in sales in December.

The Observer
Figures out this week are expected to show that Britain's economy came to a virtual standstill in the last three months of the year.GDP data on Tuesday will show the economy slowed from 0.7% in the third quarter to 0.2% or even zero in the run-up to Christmas, economists say.Last week the Office for National Statistics said December's retail sales were flat on the previous month – the worst pre-Christmas performance since 1998. Many shops blamed the snow for the slump in sales but the ONS said higher prices had also deterred shoppers. Full article.

Struggling entertainment retailer HMV is the most shorted stock in the FTSE All Share index, with nearly 24% of its shares out on loan to hedge funds and other speculators, according to Dataexplorers.Shorting is where investors bet on a share price being too high by borrowing the stock from a financial institution then selling in the market. The shares are later bought back at a lower price (at least, that is the intention) and returned to the lender, with the shorter pocketing the difference. During the credit crunch, short sellers drove down the stock prices of the banks because they foresaw the crisis would get worse. Full article.

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