Retail round up - The Sunday papers
The Sunday Telegraph
Marks and Spencer has begun selling "plus-size" clothing for children as young as three in an attempt to dress a new generation with bulging waistlines.Health campaigners said the decision by the High Street giant demonstrated the scale of the obesity epidemic affecting Britain's "overindulged" children, with one in four children now classed as obese or overweight by the time they start primary school.The retailer said it began a trial of the "plus fit" range last week, in an attempt to meet consumer demand.Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "It is an absolutely tragic illustration of the terrible obesity problem this country faces, and how early in life it starts. People used to dismiss obesity as a problem of the lower classes, but the decision by M&S shows just how widespread the problem is."This is about middle-class children being overindulged and carried everywhere in 4x4 cars, not to mention a generation of parents who haven't been taught domestic science, and don't know how to feed their children a healthy meal at the end of the day." Full article.
Furniture sales should be treated with a cynicism a consumer watchdog has warned after research confirmed what most bargain hunters will have long suspected – that some items are permanently "on sale". It is what bargain-hunters have always suspected. Some furniture is permanently “on sale”, according to research by Which?, the consumer organisation.Consumers should view discounts and sales with “a healthy dose of cynicism” when buying furniture, Which? found. It tracked 12,793 online prices for sofas and beds from eight major retailers over seven months, and found many items were constantly “on sale”.Bensons for Beds and Sleepmasters had products “on sale” throughout the entire 32-week period. The prices fluctuated but the beds were never available at the higher advertised price.Dreams, Furniture Village and Harveys all had beds or sofas “on sale” for far longer than they were at their non-sale prices.Another tactic was to offer meaningless “extra discounts”. Bensons for Beds offered an Ashleigh divan on sale at £399 (“after-sale” price £799). After Christmas, it offered an “extra discount” when shoppers could buy the divan for £399. Eleven weeks later the divan was back on at a sale price of £399.The only store to buck the trend was The Bed Shed which offered sale prices on items for four of the 32-week period when Which? was tracking products. The full report, The never-ending sale, appears in the August 2010 issue of Which? magazine. Full article
Shoppers are being misled by labels on supermarket mince and could be buying meat that is substantially more fatty than the packet suggests, an investigation has found.So-called "lean" mince sold in supermarkets can contain up to 25 per cent fat – more than the standard alternative. And a lot of the meat on sale contains much substantially more fat than the label states.The research was commissioned for the Local Government Regulation body, and undertaken by local trading standards and environmental health officers. In all more than 500 packs of mince were tested from supermarkets and independent butchers.This is not the first time that the accuracy of meat labelling has been called into question, with farmers previously claiming supermarket shoppers had being frequently deceived by pork labelled as British when imported.Asda was found to provide the most misleading information for their beef.The sample of products from Asda contained on average 27 per cent more fat than was suggested on the label, compared with mince from Iceland that had 10 per cent less fat than advertised.The fat and gristle content of some minced beef varied to such an extent between retailers that consumers faced an impossible task understanding what they were buying, with some "lean" or "extra lean" products proving more fatty than standard mince. Full article.
The Independent on Sunday
The economy's crawl back to recovery turned into a sprint in the second quarter of the year, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).In a release that surprised even the most optimistic of City observers, the ONS said that the economy grew by 1.1 per cent during the period from April to June this year, a marked acceleration on the 0.3 per cent seen in the previous three months.It represents an annualised growth rate of 4.4 per cent, some way above the economy's long-term trend. Evidence that the economy is growing much faster than anticipated will strengthen the hand of those at the Bank of England arguing for an early, if modest, tightening of monetary policy and a rise in interest rates.Meanwhile inflation, according to the Bank's chief economist, Spencer Dale, is expected to stay above the official 2 per cent target for the whole of next year. The combination of rapidly rising output and "sticky" prices will also bolster the Government's case that the chance of a "double-dip" recession is overdone, and that the economy can withstand public-spending cuts and tax hikes more easily than critics suggest. Full article
Sales at UK branches of McDonald's powered ahead in the second quarter, thanks to a rise in customer visits.The fast-food giant said that although it could not give sales figures for individual countries, it achieved "high single-digit" UK growth in the 12 weeks to 30 June. "Growth is being driven right across the menu. We are seeing really good growth across our saver menu," said a spokeswoman.The number of customer visits rose by 26 million, taking the total to more than 300 million, in what was the 17th consecutive quarter of growth for McDonald's UK.The company said it enjoyed a positive impact from its World Cup football and Taste of America advertising campaigns. Sales rose by 5.2 per cent in Europe, by 3.7 per cent in the US and by 4.8 per cent globally.
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