Retail round up The Sunday papers
An investigation has revealed Christmas shoppers are being stung by rises of up to 26 per cent on gifts such knitwear as retailers bring forward price increases linked to the soaring cost of cotton. Early price increases of up to 26 per cent have been imposed some categories of clothing, even though the items were made long before cotton prices rose to their highest for 15 years. Experts said shops had brought forward price rises to the lucrative Christmas trading period.
Frozen turkey sales are on the rise as modern family life means most Britons now eat two Christmas lunches. It used to be the single most important meal of the year, enjoyed by all generations together in one place. But the fragmented nature of modern families now means most Britons will have two Christmas lunches, and one-third will much through three. The finding, in a supermarket survey, is thought to have come about because the rising divorce rate has led to more families living apart - meaning more homes to visit at Christmas time in order to 'keep the peace'.
Christmas shoppers shrugged off concerns about the economy to spend hundreds of millions on gifts on Saturday, lured by retailers offering discounts of up to 50 per cent. More than £200 million was spent in London's West End alone as streets were closed to traffic and a host of festive entertainment was laid on. Takings were forecast to be up by between eight and 10 per cent on the same day last year, with Oxford Street and Regent Street pedestrianised for the sixth year running.
Supermarkets are to be banned from selling wine, beer and spirits below a national "minimum price" under plans to be unveiled by ministers. The coalition will follow a formula first used by Asda, the supermarket chain, in setting the price, which is intended to be a major weapon in the battle against binge drinking. The formula, aimed a clamping down on "loss leader" deals, means that no outlet will be able to sell any alcoholic drink for below the cost of duty on the product, plus VAT. If they do they are likely to lose their licence to sell alcohol as well as face fines.
Ikea, the Swedish juggernaut which is as famous for its squeaky-clean image as for its hellish shopping experience, long ago sealed its masochistic pact with the British consumer to become the country's biggest home furnishings retailer. But an explosive book, The Truth About Ikea, claims that far from offering British shoppers a bargain, at the height of its powers in the late 1990s Ikea betrayed its golden rule – that prices should be 10% lower than those of its rivals – and ruthlessly overcharged British shoppers to boost profits.
Independent on Sunday
Office, the 124-store shoe retailer, has entered exclusive talks with a private equity firm over a sale of the business for up to £170m. Silverfleet Capital is thought to be close to acquiring Office, which is controlled by the Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter, for between £150m and £170m after emerging as the preferred bidder. Second round bids for Office took place earlier this month, but the two other private equity suitors PAI Partners and Blackstone are believed to have dropped out of the race to buy the retailer. Office and Silverfleet Capital declined to comment, while Blackstone and PAI Partners did not return calls.
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